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NFL Draft

Anthony Butler: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview Series

  • The Draft Network
  • April 25, 2021
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The 2021 NFL Draft is loaded with big names at linebacker with several of this year’s top prospects coming out of elite programs around the nation. But dig deeper into the class and you’ll find one of this year’s biggest sleepers at the position: a versatile, productive, and smart defender in Anthony Butler, out of Liberty.

Butler spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about transferring from Charlotte to Liberty for his senior season, what he loves about playing the linebacker position, and why he thinks an NFL team should use a draft pick on him.

JM: You decided to transfer from Charlotte to Liberty for your senior year. You sat out the 2019 season due to the transfer rules and had a great campaign in 2020. Why did you decide to transfer?

AB: I was facing a lot of adversity at Charlotte. That’s what went into the decision. I felt like I needed a change of scenery as far as playing football goes. I needed to take control of the trajectory of my career. I felt like I had more to give. I thought I was a better player than what I had shown at Charlotte. I needed to make a change.

JM: When you say you needed a change, did you feel like you were being underutilized?

AB: I felt like I was being undervalued and underutilized at Charlotte. I was being misused. I transferred in 2019. That’s when I entered the portal. I played in 2020 at Liberty.

JM: We appreciate your honesty. You settled in nicely at Liberty. You hit the ground running. You recorded 67 tackles and two interceptions in your senior season. How do you look back on your lone season there?

AB: I look back on my final season as a blessing. I have to thank God. I knew what was in my heart. My desire to showcase myself as a talent that’s worthy of playing at the next level came to fruition. I showed I’m capable of going out there and executing at a high level. Liberty is a special program. They welcomed me with open arms. It was an amazing experience from day one. I’m just in awe of what’s happening for me right now. I can’t thank God enough for all this.

JM: You made the most of a new opportunity that you created for yourself. What’s your favorite part of playing the linebacker position?

AB: My favorite aspect of playing the linebacker position is being in control of the front seven. We have to command the front seven. We have to go to war together. We have to play for one another. We’re trying to stop the run. That’s my favorite part of it. I love being out there with six other guys knowing that we can stop the run together. It’s up to us to change the momentum of a game. If we can shut down the run, we can turn the game in our favor. We can make the offense one-dimensional which helps our guys on the back end. It handicaps the offense.

JM: Would you say that you prefer playing in the run game as opposed to dropping in coverage?

AB: Yeah, I definitely do. There’s no doubt about it. I love stopping the run. I feel like a dominant presence when I’m out there shutting down the run game. It makes me feel great. I love playing the run.

JM: You’ve spent the last few months meeting with NFL teams virtually. What’s that process been like for you, and who are some of the teams you’ve met with?

AB: I’ve met virtually with the Bengals, Cowboys, and Raiders. Several teams have reached out to my agent as well. The conversations have been going great. They’re trying to get a feel for who I am as a person. We’re talking football. It’s been great.

JM: It’s great to hear about which teams are interested in you. If you could sit down and talk football with one NFL linebacker, past or present, who would you choose and why?

AB: I would pick Ray Lewis. He’s the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game. He played the game for 17 years. He went through nine surgeries and bounced back from every single one of them. He faced so much adversity throughout his career. He endured so much. He has a lot to share with the youth when it comes to experience in life. I would love to learn from him. He was such a smart player. He was able to make so many plays. He’s the only player in NFL history to have 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. His resume speaks for itself. I would love to sit down with him and pick his brain. I bet he could teach me how to prepare for life in the NFL. That’s the type of wisdom I’m looking for.

JM: That’s a great choice. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, why should a team use one of its draft picks on Anthony Butler?

AB: A team should use one of their draft picks on Anthony Butler because I’m gonna bring a lot to the table. I’m gonna be a leader for the organization. I’m gonna be a guy that always does the right thing. I’m the first one in, last one out. I’m gonna work hard. I can come in and play on special teams right away.

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