Hakeem Butler, WR – Iowa State
At 6’6” 225 pounds, Butler is a giraffe-sized receiver who came into his own during his redshirt junior season for the Cyclones in 2018. He totaled 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns on just 60 receptions, averaging an absurd 22 yards per reception. He has gathered a ton of hype after such a productive final season, but stats can be deceiving depending on the player and situation. As the draft is quickly approaching, Butler is widely projected to be a second-round pick, but is he really worth that much draft capital for an NFL team?
The Scout’s Notes
At first glance, Butler uses his size to box out cornerbacks and keep the ball away on any slant-type route. He works well along the sideline and is able to make catches well outside of his frame. This massive catch radius bodes well for his red zone ability as he is able to high-point the football very well in the endzone. Butler is very good in any contested catch situations and is able to pull the ball down from smaller, weaker defenders. Though Butler is a big-bodied, deadly red zone target, he does not profile as a true go-to receiver for his NFL team. Butler is not a fluid athlete and struggles to cleanly break out of his routes and create consistent separation across all levels of the field. Butler struggles with drops as his hands are far from a sure thing. Though he has excellent size, Butler struggles to maintain coordination both before and after the catch and is not a future number one receiver. He is better suited for a red zone-only role that gives him a certain number of packages.
Butler will not be the fantasy monster that many expect him to be. At best, he will be an inconsistent touchdown scorer who carves out a role as a WR3 for his NFL team. Regardless of landing spot, Butler will be over-drafted in rookie drafts and immediately disappoint dynasty owners across the board. Drafting Butler in the late second round would feel much more comfortable due to the much lower production he will provide over the next few seasons.
At 3:22, Butler lines up as the inside slot receiver position, which is nearly where the tight end is located (see the irony?). As the ball is snapped, the middle linebacker squares his shoulders with Butler, who attempts to break and attack the linebacker’s weak, field-side leverage. Though the defense is in zone coverage, Butler shows how uncoordinated his routes can be as he nearly loses his balance five steps into the play.
At 6:04, Butler is aligned as the left wide receiver against a soft zone coverage. He turns his shoulders as if he is running a post route, and flips back to the boundary side of the field. The pass could have led him a bit further towards the sideline, but the ball hits him in the chest, and Butler completely drops the ball. He needs to prove to have stronger, more consistent hands before playing a significant role in the NFL.
Butler is one of the most overrated players in the 2019 rookie class. Instead of drafting the next Devin Funchess, a better bet would be to take a shot on another highly-touted receiver such as AJ Brown in the same range. Leave Butler alone until the mid-second round in all formats.