Defensive Tackle is simultaneously one of the biggest strengths and biggest areas of need currently on the Bengals roster. All-pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins is a nightmare for offenses to deal with in the middle of the trenches. But, the Bengals run a 4-3 defensive system and don't really have another prolific starting defensive tackle to complement his stellar play. They're likely to look to the draft to find someone to help create a one-two punch. A great option could be Vernon Butler out of Louisiana Tech who the Bengals recently brought in to Cincinnati for a workout.
Height/weight: 6'4", 323 lbs
Arm Length: 35 1/8"
Vertical Jump: 29.5"
Broad Jump: 104.0"
3 Cone Drill: 7.82 sec
20 yard shuttle: 4.76 sec
If he were to fall to the Bengals, Butler could be exactly the kind of player that the Bengals are looking for. He combines a unique blend of length and athleticism that would pair well with the mauler that is Geno Atkins. He can get to the quarterback, but his true calling comes as a run stopper. He recorded a total of 23.5 tackles for a loss on ball carriers in the backfield in his junior and senior seasons at Louisiana Tech.
There's a chance that Butler is available for the Bengals at No. 24 or maybe even No. 56. But, the problem is there's just as good of a chance that he's off the board before they even have their first pick. The Bengals' run defense was decidedly average last year (thirteenth in rushing yards allowed), so finding someone like him who can clog up the middle definitely seems to be the right idea. They've already met and privately worked him out, so you can guess that they might be interested should he be available.
Strengths: Butler has very long arms for a defensive tackle. He uses them to his advantage very well and moves offensive lineman around with relative ease. It takes two men to stop him most of the time, but his size and skills are conducive to handling two guys well. If paired up with a high end defensive tackle in the NFL, it could almost be like having an extra player on the field. He never quits on a play and will do everything it takes to get through the trenches every time, but he doesn't let his effort and passion get him into trouble with the refs.
Weaknesses: While his effort and passion won't get him into trouble on the field, his technique might. When things are going well, he's got a very refined and high end set of skills. However, when things don't work out right away, he has a bad habit of resorting to brute strength as opposed to his highly effective stutter step. He can tend to get frustrated and channel his effort into techniques that didn't fool college lineman and certainly won't get the better of NFL linemen. Furthermore, for all his potential, he didn't quite live up to the hype in his senior season.
Bottom Line: If he falls to the Bengals at No. 24, they're going to have a tough decision to make. There's a huge need on the team at wide receiver and slightly smaller need at safety that they absolutely must address early in the draft. But, Butler possess an incredible amount of raw talent. He's got tremendous upside with the only real red flags having to do with the need to refine his game a bit more. There's a chance that he drops into the second round and even as far as No. 56. But, it's pretty unlikely, so if he's available at No. 24 they'll probably have to make their choice on him then.
Projected round: 1-2