This season, the Chicago Bears are shifting back to the 4-3 defense after seven years of playing the 3-4. Not only that, but it seems they’re also re-embracing the Lovie Smith era as Matt Eberflus aims to install elements of the classic Tampa-2 system. The scheme depends on three key positions to function at a high level for those who don’t remember. There is a good slot cornerback, a good weakside linebacker, and a good interior pass rusher at defensive tackle.
That last one is probably the most vital of the three. Eberflus had one of the best in the NFL over in Indianapolis with DeForest Buckner. Chicago fans will remember the best examples include Tommie Harris in the mid-2000s and then Henry Melton in 2011 and 2012. When those two were healthy, the Bears defense ranked among the best in the league. So it shouldn’t be a surprise the team is sniffing around players in the draft that resemble Melton.
#Tennessee DL Matthew Butler had a dominant week at the @ShrineBowl. He met with 29+ teams in an in-depth capacity and that list includes #Titans, #Jets, #Giants, #Buccaneers, #Saints, #Raiders, #Texans and #Bears.
— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) February 27, 2022
Matthew Butler is a fun prospect.
His body type resembles Melton in being somewhat undersized at 6’3, 295 lbs. However, like Melton, he demonstrates a combination of quickness, burst, and violent hands that enable him to shoot gaps into the backfield. This led to him causing all sorts of problems for opposing offenses. Even when he wasn’t the one making the play, his efforts helped teammates do so instead. While his talent is good, his motor is 10x better. He is just relentless in his approach on every snap.
Tennessee DT Matthew Butler is a little-known prospect but is still intriguing nonetheless.
Here he shows a great first step matched with even better use of the rip move to leverage a sack here in the 1st quarter. pic.twitter.com/6qfgmTlHkr
— Nick Price (@PriceCheck3) November 15, 2021
Talking to NFL personnel afterwards, #Tennessee’s IDL Matthew Butler (@mattbutler_45 ) was among the biggest “winners” in Vegas
His high football IQ, great hand placement, and timing as a run + pass defender showed all week. Immediate NFL contributor in multiple defensive fronts pic.twitter.com/MXgrG4ItG8
— Eric Galko (@EricGalko) February 25, 2022
Matthew Butler is an elite team leader for Tennessee pic.twitter.com/Mj0nU5uLCU
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) November 22, 2021
For a coach that places a high demand on effort and intensity, it isn’t a surprise that Eberflus would be drawn to Butler. Not only does the Tennessee defensive tackle fit the new Chicago Bears defense, but also its new culture. He finished 2021 with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. The frustrating part is the Volunteers coaching staff didn’t always play him at three-technique where he fits best. They moved him around.
To his credit, the kid never complained. He did his job and made the most of his opportunities. He always seemed to save his best performances for the biggest opponents too. He had nine tackles including 1.5 for a loss against Alabama and then a sack and a tackle for a loss against Georgia. Butler can play. It will be interesting to see if the Bears can land him two months from now.
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