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2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Hakeem Butler, Iowa State

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
Davis Mattek March 1, 2019 12:10PM EDT

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile Scouting Report for Hakeem Butler

Hakeem Butler is a supremely intriguing prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft due to his size. The Iowa State wide receiver stands 6’6″ and weighs in at around 225 pounds which honestly makes him a little closer to an NFL tight end than a pure wide receiver. His measurables from the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis are something to see.

Butler broke the record for the longest wingspan recorded for any wide receiver at the NFL combine which is where the interest piques for him. He had a solid career at Iowa State but at no point was he ever regarded as a future top tier prospect. Butler was a two-sport star in high school (something that I always like to see in wide receiver prospects) and was a redshirt freshman at Iowa State. Generally speaking, redshirting is not optimal for future NFL success as it will make a player a year older when they are drafted.

Hakeem Butler had only 9 receptions for 134 yards and 2 TDs in 2016 despite catching a touchdown pass in his first game as an Iowa State Cyclone. His redshirt sophomore season portended better things.

The giant wideout played in all 13 games for the Cyclones in 2017 and he finished tied for third on the team in receptions, behind Allen Lazard and Trever Ryan. Lazard was actually a prospect I really liked when he was coming out of Iowa State, but he eventually went undrafted after performing just okay at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. Where Butler really came to shine was his final season at Iowa State.

Butler had a monster final season at Iowa State and is going to get a firmly draftable grade from most NFL teams as a result. He lead Iowa State in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Butler actually accounted for a truly absurd 43.5% of Iowa State’s receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in his final season, which is a number that we would generally associate with future NFL superstars. For example, that is comparable to the number that Dez Bryant posted at Oklahoma State. Butler finished 3rd in the Big 12 in receiving yards but more importantly, actually lead the conference in yards per reception.

Hakeem Butler had more yards per reception than Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma who had the benefit of playing with the best quarterback in all of college football. His 22 yards per reception was third-most in college football and he almost doubled up Emmanuel Hall and Xavier Ubosi in total receptions making his per reception figure more impressive. The concept of a 6’6″ player being dominant down the field and being able to create after the catch is pretty tantalizing for NFL coaches.

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said about Butler “He’s got rare size and length, and he had some circus catches as you know when you study him. His catch radius is ridiculous. He’s outstanding in the red zone.” Watching Butler’s film, I had a similar reaction. In the Oklahoma game, where he had 174 yards and two touchdowns, he looked almost unstoppable. Smaller defensive backs bounce off him like gnats and he can make contested catches look easy because of his unreal size. The interesting thing about a player of Butler’s size is that generally, they are not expected to make contributions after the catch. That is not true of Butler. Time after time on his film, you see that he creates yards after the catch point. He also played a little bit in the slot in 2017 when Allen Lazard was the primary X-Wide Receiver for Iowa State. His game certainly is not perfect; he is not very agile laterally due to his massive size and he will have some finer points to learn about route-running at the next level.

Hakeem Butler NFL Draft Final Verdict

If your team is in need of a big-bodied wide receiver and you aren’t sold on JJ Arcega-Whiteside or even D.K Metcalf, Hakeem Butler seems pretty interesting. All of the traits you would want to see from a player of his size seem to be there and the final season production is outstanding enough to not be concerned about the absence of a good breakout age. He will play his first NFL season at the age of 23 which is not a great indicator but I am not writing him off as a result of it either.

The Cleveland Browns are a team that could fit Butler in immediately. I feel confident saying that he is a better player than Antonio Callaway and would actually fit some of what Baker does tremendously well. Having a big-bodied player who is not a precise route-runner but more of a creator would be a decided advantage when Baker Mayfield improvises. The New York Jets would be another team that has an offensive scheme/quarterback fit for Butler and I see him as a pretty easy replacement for Quincy Enunwa. I would expect that most wide receiver-needy teams have a Round 2 or Round 3 grade on Butler and he will certainly be higher in my WR rankings than consensus in the dynasty fantasy football world.

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