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New England Patriots 2017 roster breakdown: #70b DT Adam Butler

The Vanderbilt product is an intriguing depth option on the defensive line.

With opening day almost two months away and training camp not starting until later this month, we are still caught in possibly the most quiet part of the NFL offseason. However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop.

During workouts and studying sessions, players still have a chance to lay the foundation for their spots on the team. Over the course of the next few months, we will take a look at the men fighting for them on the 2017 New England Patriots. 53 of currently 90 players will be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.

Today, we will continue the series with one of the Patriots' undrafted rookie signings.

Name: Adam Butler

Position: Defensive tackle / defensive edge

Jersey number: 70b

Opening day age: 23

Experience: Rookie

Size: 6’5, 300 lbs.

2016 review: After seeing his role grow and evolve over his first four years at Vanderbilt, defensive lineman Adam Butler delivered his best collegiate season in 2016. The senior started all 13 of the Commodores' games and established himself as the anchor of the team's defensive line – one that lined up not only on the interior but also saw regular snaps on the edge.

Despite moving all over the formation and playing against top competition in college football's best conference, Butler looked good especially against the pass. He finished the season with a respectable stat line of 31 total tackles – 7.5 of which for loss of yardage – as well as a team-high four quarterback sacks and 28 additional hurries.

Overall, Butler was a competitive and reliable defender in his final season at Vanderbilt. However, due to concerns about his athleticism and projected low ceiling, the Texas native went unselected in the 2017 NFL draft. Instead, he signed as a rookie free agent with the Patriots a few days later.

2017 preview: In New England, Adam Butler has joined a deep defensive line rotation both on the interior and on the edge – one that appears to at best have a combined one or two open spots. And while his experience at playing both roles certainly helps his chances of making the team or more likely the practice squad, he is far from a lock to stay on the Patriots' pay roll in 2017.

In order to maximize his chances of earning a role in New England, Butler needs to add strength and bulk to his frame to get more consistent in one-on-one battles and as a run defender. If the 23-year old is able to do that, he might put himself in a position to earn regular practice reps and as a potential result one of the final roster spots. As things stand right now, however, he appears to be on the outside looking in.

The Patriots currently are projected to have seven virtual roster locks along the defensive line as well as higher-upside depth options at both tackle (Vincent Valetine) and edge (Deatrich Wise Jr.). Therefore, Butler – at best – appears to be headed for New England's 10-man practice squad.