CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The NFC champion Carolina Panthers selected defensive tackle Vernon Butler from Louisiana Tech with the 30th overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
The 6-foot-3, 316-pound Butler gives the Panthers another big interior defensive lineman or "hog molly," as general manager Dave Gettleman likes to call them.
He had 50 tackles and three sacks last season as a senior and was named first-term All-Conference USA.
The Panthers came into the draft needing to fill openings at defensive end following the retirement of Jared Allen and cornerback after the departure of All-Pro Josh Norman, but Gettleman elected to add depth on the interior line.
The Panthers have Star Lotutelei and Kawann Short as their starting defensive tackles. Gettleman drafted them in the first and second round respectively in 2013.