With the recent events out at Valley Ranch that left assistant scout Rich Behm paralyzed from the waist down, it doesn’t seem like an appropriate time to go after his employer, Jerry Jones. Instead, let us take a look at one of the Cowboys’ recent draftees, Victor Butler. But first, we should all send out our thoughts and prayers to Behm and his family, and to all of those affected by that horrible accident. Let us also wish special teams coach Joe DeCamillis a speedy recovery.
Now, on to business. Victor Butler was selected by the Cowboys with the 10th pick in the 4th round (110th overall). Many draft experts had him projected as a 6th or 7th round prospect, but his representatives believed him to be at least a 4th round prospect. With such a disparity, it is difficult to know whether the good people at Momentum Football (the firm that represents Butler) were just blowing smoke to hype up their client or if his lack of experience and “’tweener” status were hurting his draft stock. Whatever the case may be, Butler’s performances at the Combine and his Pro Day don’t help to answer the question much.
His numbers at the Combine were vastly inferior to his numbers at Oregon State’s Pro Day. None of these numbers stand out more than his 40-time: 4.58 at the Pro Day vs 4.76 at the Combine. Worse still, one site has his 40-time listed as 4.84. It’s hard to know what to make of these, since 4.58 would represent elite speed, while 4.76 might mean that he would struggle to make the transition to OLB and 4.84 means he’d be hard-pressed just to make it out of camp.
For the sake of argument – and because everyone else does it – let’s just say that his 40-time is a 4.58. This means that the Cowboys may have a legitimate weapon on their hands. His ability to rush the passer is unmistakable and the very reason why he was named the MVP of the Sun Bowl in December. Had he attended a name school, he would have been considered an elite pass rusher and might have received more notoriety among the national media and fans. Instead, he toiled in relative obscurity at Oregon State.
As I mentioned before, his ability to rush the passer is his #1 skill. Though he only started one season at OSU (no, not tOSU), he still managed to collect 10.5 sacks as a role player during his Junior season. This was not necessarily an area of need for the Cowboys, but two other traits of his made him an attractive player: his special teams and leadership abilities. These are two areas which the Cowboys sorely lacked in 2008. Their special teams were downright atrocious and their lack of leadership is well-documented. No one is going to expect Butler to assume a leadership role as a rookie, however. But his ability to play special teams may allow him to steal a roster spot on game days.
He will encounter some obstacles along the way, though. The fact that he is converting from defensive end means that he will have to learn how to cover backs and tight ends. This was, as you all know, something that even DeMarcus Ware struggled with during his first couple of seasons in the NFL. As this is not an easy skill to acquire, Butler will have to work long and hard to master it – especially since he is considered to be a below average player in space. He will also need to work on his ability to shed blockers.
It’s difficult to say whether or not Butler will have a spot on the 45-man roster on game days. But one thing is for sure, if he does play defense, expect to see him around the quarterback. Especially if he is playing opposite DeMarcus Ware, since that means he will be going one-on-one against a tackle. The real test for Butler, however, will be when he is asked to jump out into the flat to cover a back coming out of the backfield. That is where he will earn his NFL stripes.