Drew Boylhart February 2008

Ezra Butler   LB   Nevada
Ezra is a strong, powerful kid who has excellent quickness and agility to play more than one position for the team that drafts him.  He shows an excellent burst off the line of scrimmage with his hand down and is a good tackler.  When he is standing up, he does a solid job in coverage; however, once he is sure where the play is going, the kid is like a heat-seeking missile ready to explode into the tackle.  Ezra shows some leadership skills, but, at times, his need to win outweighs those leadership abilities.  He has the potential to be an excellent special teams player, but I just donít see this kid being satisfied playing on just special teams.  This kid wants to be a starter and he should be a good one.     
Things have been easy for Ezra at the college level.  He has been moved around and his athleticism is superior to his opponents; therefore, he was able to make a lot of plays.  He has a lot of bad habits and really hasnít learned one position like most players who come out in the draft.  This is a gift and a curse.  He has a LBís mentality, but has a ton of things to learn before he can be a LB at the next level.  Ezra will have to learn to control his emotions on and off the field as well.  He was suspended for a few games this year.  I donít think that this is a big problem, but you never know.  If his suspension is not a big concern, then this kid has enormous potential to impact at the next level.   
Ezra plays the game like his crotch is on fire.  Trying to keep track of where this kid is lining up on any given play on the field is like trying to find Waldo in one of those freaking cartoon mazes.   Iím giving Ezra a 2nd round talent grade because he will need a little time to impact at the next level.  The first thing the team that drafts him is going to have to do is teach him one position.  Personally, I think that position should be a DE in a 4-3 defense.  He is a little short, but his burst off the line with his hand down is almost as good as Dwight Freeney (DE Colts).  I believe Ezra can bulk up easily to 260-270 lbs without it affecting his quickness in order to become a dominating weakside DE in a 4-3 defense.  To me, this is his impact position.  Any other position will keep him too busy mentally and not allow for his natural talent to become the focal point of his game.  Donít get me wrong, the kid is smart but sometimes he thinks too much before he reacts.  At the college level he could overcome this because of his athleticism; however, at the pro level, this will become a problem.  Ezra has good potential and athletic talent to be a OLB/DE in a 3-4 defense also, but that will take some time for him to learn.  Additionally, that "think and react" issue I talked about will give you some big time growing pains.  If your team is will to go through those growing pains, you will have yourself a LB equal to Lance Briggs (OLB Bears).  But it will take some time and I think in this day an age that you need to cut the LTI of a player as much as possible.  Free agency does not allow you in this day and age to wait for a player to impact in his 4th year of his contract; if he does, he will be gone to another team and they will get the benefit of all your patience and hard work.  So itís simple -- if you draft Ezra and want him to be a LB, then wait until the 4th round to draft him.  If you think like I do (that he can be a DE with his hand down and help /impact right away), then draft him in the 2nd round.  Either way, I donít think you will be sorry.