Adam Butler is one of many formerly undrafted New England Patriots players who have made a major impact on this team in recent years.
Who finished in the top-three last season in sacks for the New England Patriots?
Maybe you just so happen to know all three players off the top of your head right away, but I’m guessing that if the vast majority of readers out there were asked this same question on the street — and not in an article about Adam Butler — they would never guess that Butler was a correct answer.
Jamie Collins? Definitely. Kyle Van Noy? Absolutely.
But Adam Butler? I think a good chunk of people would’ve guessed someone else, whether it was Chase Winovich, Lawrence Guy, Dont’a Hightower, John Simon, or whomever.
Collins led the 2019 Patriots with 7.0 sacks, Van Noy was second with 6.5 sacks, and Butler was third with 6.0 sacks. He also had 2.0 sacks in a game on two separate occasions last season — against the Dolphins in September and against the Browns in October.
In fact, the 26-year-old Butler seems to be a star on the rise for Bill Belichick’s defense. His sack total has increased steadily each season he’s been in the league now: He had 2.0 sacks as a rookie in 2017, he had 3.0 sacks in 2018, and then he had the 6.0 sacks last year in 2019.
He also has yet to miss a game over his first three seasons as a Patriot in the NFL.
Most impressive of all? Butler went undrafted coming out of Vanderbilt back in 2017. He’s yet another success story when it comes to Belichick finding and snagging available talent in the weeks/months post-draft.
Best-case scenario projection for 2020
If Butler keeps up this high level of production, he won’t be flying under the radar much longer — in Foxborough and around the country.
While it may be unrealistic to think he could find his name mentioned alongside the other top defensive tackles around the league today in 2020, it is realistic to think that if he continues on his current trajectory, he could at least become a familiar name to hardcore NFL fans and students of the game.
Especially if the New England defense is anything like they were last season when they flirted with history, it stands to reason that key contributors to the overall unit’s success will get greater recognition and fanfare.
Perhaps something like being named a Second-Team All Pro feels achievable for Butler if he puts up another solid season and maybe even leads the team in sacks — it’s all doable.
Worst-case scenario projection for 2020
As stated in the “worst-case scenario projection for 2020” section on Lawrence Guy’s profile and outlook page, New England’s starting defensive tackles are in a relatively safe and secure spot as offseason training camps approach.
Whereas the Patriots have stockpiled tons of young talent at cornerback, safety, and linebacker, New England doesn’t have nearly as much high-profile youth waiting in the wings along the defensive line.
Still, Butler can’t afford to let that fact make him complacent. He’s not a big enough name yet even in Foxborough that he can’t be replaced mid-season even should he find himself struggling this year.
It’d be strange to see that happen since Butler has only gotten better each year he’s been in the NFL, but as anyone who’s watched a lot of football in their lifetime will attest: stranger things have happened too.