Position: Outside Linebacker
Size: 6'2, 248
Age: 23, 7/29/87
College: Oregon State
Drafted: Round 4, #110 - 2009
Experience: 2 Seasons
Salary History and Contract Status: 7/23/2009: Signed a four-year, $2.248 million contract. The deal included a $498,540 signing bonus. 2011: $480,000, 2012: $565,000, 2013: Free Agent
2009 Draft Profile From OurLads: (ranked 26th best DE) Victor Butler - Oregon State - 6'2, 248, 4.77 (40 time): One-Year starter. Long arms and good athletic ability. Outstanding production with 65 tackles including 21 1/2 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. High motor player that finishes plays. Played defensive end but projects to a 3-4 outside rush linebacker. Lacks the strength as a defensive end to anchor against the run at times. Disruptive player over his career. Struggles against wide bodied tackles if they get their hands on him. He will also get ridden up the field. Needs to develop a better use of his hands to disengage from the blocker and to improve his pass rushing technique. Good tackler. Seventh round/priority free agent.
Pre-2010: On draft day 2009, the Cowboys traded out of the #51 spot in the draft because many believe the players they targeted with their 1st pick of the day (2nd rounder) were gone. The final player on their "wish list" was Oregon's Max Unger who was snagged by the Seattle Seahawks at #49. They traded pick #51 to Buffalo and in return received picks #75 and #110. Buffalo used #51 to get guard Andy Levitre from Oregon State - a player who has started Left Guard for the Bills for all 32 games since with some mixed results about his upside. The Cowboys used pick #75 on long-term project Robert Brewster and #110 on Victor Butler, one of the many DE to OLB transition ideas of the Wade Phillips era. Butler, since the day he was drafted has been the #3 OLB on the roster, a spot that does not get much chance, but Butler has certainly made the most of his rare opportunites. In 2009, he had 3 sacks in just 67 chances to rush the passer (a sack rate of 4.4% - Ware's sack rate is 2.1%, Spencer's 1.4%). Obviously, that rate would be impossible to maintain, but he has the gift for making the most of his rare opportunities.
2010: In 2010, Victor was on the field for 157 snaps (112 in 2009) as Ware and Spencer just don't come off the field. I thought this was an issue as the season wore on because I believe evidence shows that the Cowboys pass rush would become more feeble as the game went on. Couple that with the idea that they were conceding a number of damaging 4th Quarter drives, and it would seem the premise of giving Butler more work on passing downs earlier in the game to preserve freshness in your starters would only make common sense. In Game 13, Butler was inactive against Philadelphia because of reported special teams shortcomings against the Colts the week before. Again, his pass rush skills were on display in limited opportunities and had a sack against Jacksonville and another against the Redskins. 2 sacks and 9 QB pressures in 76 pass rush situations is easily the best rate again on the team.
2011 Analysis: There has been a few reasons why the Cowboys have not used Butler more. 1) Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware perform at a very high level. Spencer does not rush the passer well enough, but in normal down and distance situations, he does a lot of things very well. and 2) there is a feeling that Butler cannot play in normal down and distances because he would be a target for running plays. They seem to feel that he is simply a 3rd down edge rushing specialist. If he can ever prove to be a guy who would not be a liability on 1st and 10, I believe the Cowboys would love to do more with him. As it stands, I think he is exactly what you want from a 4th Round pick; a special teams contributor who can offer something to the defense with his knack for causing havoc on pass rushing situations. We have yet to find what would happen if Ware or Spencer had to miss a stretch of time, but I suspect the Cowboys find Butler quite useful moving forward.