New York Jets 2019 NFL Draft Profile: WR Hakeem Butler
By Justin Fried
Here’s our 2019 NFL Draft profile for Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler breaking down his strengths, weaknesses, and New York Jets prediction.
If you’re going into the 2019 NFL Draft in search of raw talent and potential there may not be a better prospect than Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler. Butler is a monster of a wide receiver prospect who offers as much upside as any receiver in this class.
However, there are plenty of concerns about his overall game which could scare teams off. Still, he remains a top-level prospect who will likely hear his name called off the board within the first two or three rounds.
Butler redshirted his freshman year at Iowa State and didn’t really see significant playing time until his sophomore season in 2017. But Butler really broke out on a national scale with his incredible 2018 campaign that saw him rack up Second-Team All-Big 12 honors as a result of a fantastic stat line.
Butler hauled in 60 catches for a whopping 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns over his 13 games played. For the benefit of those without calculators, that’s a ridiculous 22 yards per catch.
His big-play ability will likely see some team take a chance on him early despite his deficiencies in other aspects of his game.
Standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing in at almost 230 pounds, Butler is a physically imposing receiver who thrives in contested catch situations. He uses his massive frame to box out defensive backs and overpower his way to a catch.
He knows how to high-point the football and catch back-shoulder throws making him an incredibly dominant red-zone target. His incredible wingspan gives him an enormous catch radius which allows him to at least get his hands on most balls thrown his way.
However, Butler isn’t necessarily a one-trick pony contested catch receiver. The Iowa State product ran a blazing 4.48 40-yard dash time at the combine which is just unfair for a player of his size. He uses that speed to get down the field quickly and make plays with the ball after the catch.
Butler’s combination of speed and physicality allow him to be bullish with the ball in his hands. He is a true YAC monster and runs like a bulldozer with arms when gaining yards after the catch.
While Butler has all the physical traits to be a dominant player at the next level, he remains unrefined as a receiver prospect. The traits are there, he just needs to put it all together to be the All-Pro caliber receiver he has the potential to be.
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Butler has really struggled with drops in college as he will regularly make the difficult catches look easy but the easy catches look difficult. Given his massive hand size, you wouldn’t think this would be an issue but it has been the No. 1 thing that has held him back.
Butler’s limitations with his athleticism have also held him back to this point. The 22-year-old is far from a great route-runner and his poor change of direction skills hurt his ability to break out of his routes.
His cuts are generally sloppy and he doesn’t have the quickness to be able to run nuanced routes. Butler is raw as a receiver and will require plenty of development to reach his full potential.
NEW YORK JETS PREDICTION
The New York Jets could be in the market for a receiver come the 2019 NFL Draft and while Butler could be a target, it’d be surprising to see the team come away with him. The Jets don’t currently have a second-round pick and it isn’t all too likely that Butler falls all the way to the third round.
On top of that, the Jets have other more pressing needs that they must address making receiver one of the lower priorities for the team. Still, the Jets could certainly benefit from having a player of his skill set on the roster and Butler would give the team a true dominant red zone threat.
Expect Butler to garner some Day 1 hype but it’s more likely his range falls somewhere in the second or third round. If he’s there in the third round, the Jets will have to heavily consider taking someone of his talent with one of their two third-round picks.
Butler may be unrefined as a receiver prospect, but sometimes it’s smart to bet on traits and NFL projection. Even if he doesn’t quite reach his full potential, Butler projects as a very solid split end at the next level with a possible future as a perennial All-Pro player.