1. He has a chip on his shoulder
Similar to the way Carolina approached the 2015 season, Vernon Butler is a man with something to prove. "Big school guys, they think they're probably the best, but small school guys, we can show them what we can do," Vernon said during a conference call Thursday night. "I have a point to prove to people in all the NFL."
Butler's drive goes back further than that, however. He was only a two-star prospect when he joined Louisiana Tech, but ended up a first-round pick after four years in Conference USA.
2. He's in good company
When the Panthers selected Butler with the 30th overall pick out of Louisiana Tech, he became the first defensive player in school history to be drafted in the first round.
First-round picks have been historically good for Louisiana Tech. Butler joins two Pro Football Hall of Famers – quarterback Terry Bradshaw and offensive tackle Willie Roaf. Wide receivers Roger Carr and Troy Edwards are also former Bulldogs selected in the first round.
3. Carolina got good value
Butler was surprised to be taken late in the first round, but is happy about his landing spot.
"I'm at a good home with the Carolina Panthers so it works out," Butler said.
Said general manager Dave Gettleman: "We were really kind of shocked he was there. We don't know why he fell. It was like my first draft, watching Star (Lotulelei) drop."
4. He'll make an immediate impact
Butler moves well for his size and has impressive pass-rushing ability. Some have compared him to Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. While he only had five sacks in college, the Panthers feel he can immediately fit into the rotation at defensive tackle.
"We're excited about him. Talking with the coaches, he'll fit into the rotation right away," head coach Ron River told reporters in a press conference on Thursday night. "He'll probably be a rotational guy, and depending on who he's in the game with, he could play the nose or it could be the right or left. But he'll most certainly have a nice role for us."
5. He's very familiar with the Panthers
Butler was paying close attention during the Panthers' victory over Arizona in the 2015 NFC Championship, as made evident by his twitter account.
Carolina's 49-15 victory certainly intrigued the defensive tackle, prompting him to tweet this:
Additionally, Butler was in Carolina's corner for the Super Bowl. "I'm a big Cam Newton fan. I've been a fan of Cam since he was at Auburn."
View photos of the Panthers' first-round draft pick, Louisiana Tech DT Vernon Butler.