20/20: Hakeem Butler

Bruce Matson

Welcome to the 20/20 series. As part of our continued Dynasty Scouts coverage and in preparation for the NFL Combine, we will be profiling 20 of the top incoming rookies of the class of 2019 by giving you 20 facts you must know.

1.) Player name – Hakeem Butler

2.) College – Iowa State Cyclones

3.) Height/Weight – 6’6’’, 218 lbs

4.) Birthdate – 5/6/1996

5.) Class – Redshirt Junior

6.) Basic college stats –

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7.) NFL Draft round projection – Butler has a first-round grade and it will be a major surprise if he falls out of the first come April. His stock will increase with a good performance at the Combine. He’s one of the top wide receivers in this year’s class and has the potential to be one of the top receivers in the league. NFL teams are going to put a premium on his draft stock.

8.) Current NFL comparison – To be honest with you, there aren’t really many receivers who compare to Butler. If anything, he is kind of like a raw A.J. Green. Butler is a monster at the catch-point and he can leap over defenders to pluck the ball out of the air at its highest point. Green’s best qualities are his ball skills and his amazing ability to convert tough contested catches, just like Butler. These guys aren’t doppelgangers to each other but they share some important traits.

9.) Best possible destination – It would be a match made in heaven if we could see him catching passes from Baker Mayfield this fall. The Browns are turning things around and will have one of the most explosive offenses in the league soon. Butler could be the final piece to make the Browns a Super Bowl contender. The sheer anticipation of him suiting up with one of the young up and coming quarterbacks in the NFL will increase his dynasty value to biblical proportions.

10.) Worst possible destination – I really don’t feel like the Oakland Raiders are deserving of a talented receiver like Butler, considering how they handled Amari Cooper last year. Derek Carr wouldn’t be the ideal quarterback for him. Last year, Carr tossed a career-low 6.9 average depth per target. Ever since he took over the reins, Jon Gruden has been a spitfire, trading away players and making questionable decisions during his entire time at Oakland. This doesn’t seem like a stable situation, and it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that he becomes misused, causing him not to reach his full potential.

11.) Best current skill – There’s a lot to like about Butler. His ball skills are world class. He’s technically always open. He does a really good job of creating enough separation from the defender to reel in tough contested catches. Defenders will have trouble covering him downfield because he has the innate ability to adjust to the ball while it’s in the air, outleap the defensive back, and control his body while off the ground to get in the right position to make the catch.

12.) Skill that needs to be improved – His size limits his ability to change direction, which impacts his route running. Butler doesn’t have the agility or footwork yet to quickly get in and out of his breaks and make sharp cuts on the field. This will cause him to round out routes and be a little slow breaking off the end of his route. This is an issue that can be fixed through practice and repetition. He will need to work on proper foot placement to maximize every step of his route.

13.) Past/current rookie ADP –

From what I’ve seen, Butler is a consistent top-five pick in rookie drafts. I’ve seen him get selected at second overall, but usually, he’s getting drafted in the three to five range in the first round of rookie drafts. Look for him to stay in this range throughout the draft process. A bad landing spot in the draft could cause him to fall a few spots, but his value shouldn’t drop more than that. On the other hand, if he gets drafted in the first round to a team with a high-powered passing offense, then his value will shoot through the roof and might cause him to be the first player selected in many dynasty drafts.

14.) Projected dynasty value – In startup drafts, Butler should be drafted between rounds four through six, falling somewhere in the top-50 range. His dynasty value should be relatively stable since he’s a talented rookie. Of course an injury, suspension or something else could cause his value to drop, but for the most part, his dynasty value should be age-insulated for the next 12-18 months.

15.) Advanced metrics –

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Allen Lazard was a key focal point in Iowa State’s passing attack from 2015 to 2017, which was one of the key factors preventing Butler from breaking out at an earlier age. He blew up during his redshirt junior season, posting a 42.08 percent market share and a 43.54 percent dominator rating of the team’s passing offense.

His late breakout age is a concern because typically, even if there are two stud wide receivers on an offense, both players should be able to command a large ownership of the passing offense. Lazard went undrafted in last year’s draft which brings up a big red flag when evaluating Butler. If he wasn’t able to beat out an undrafted free agent, how is he going to supplant top tier competition at the NFL level? On the other hand, we can point to his 2018 season to show that when given the opportunity he can produce at an elite level. Last season, he saw 31 percent of the team’s passing targets leading to 12.8 yards per target – compared to the year before where he owned 16 percent of the team’s passing targets leading to 10.6 yards per target.

16.) Recruiting Profile – According to 247Sports, he was a two-star prospect from Fort Bend Travis High School which is located in Richmond, Texas. 247Sports also ranked him the 271st wide receiver in the 2015 recruiting class. Before signing his letter of intent with Iowa State, Houston and New Mexico State were the most notable colleges to send him offer letters.

17.) High School Stats – He played seven games his senior season, catching 28 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns. At Fort Bend Travis, he shared the field with Steven Sims Jr. who commanded a large market share of the passing offense.

18.) Tragedy at Home – Butler grew up with two other siblings in Baltimore. He was a product of a single parent household where his mom would work long hours to provide for the family. During those days, his focus was more basketball than anything else. Tragedy struck his family when his mother died from breast cancer. This caused Butler to move to Texas. There he lived with his cousins Aaron and Andrew Harrison. Aaron had a brief stint in the NBA and Andrew currently plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Butler could only play half the season during his junior year because he transferred schools. This meant there wasn’t much tape on him for scouts to review, which ultimately caused him to fly under the radar.

19.) Awards and Honors – In 2018 he was named Second-Team All-American, First-Team All-Big 12 by ESPN, and Second-Team All-Big 12 by Coaches and Associated Press. He was also on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List and a Semifinalist for the Tyler Rose Award.

20.) One of the all-time great Cyclones – Butler finished his career at Iowa State fourth in receiving with 2,149 yards and his 18 receiving touchdowns rank third in school history. He earned the school record in receiving yards in a single season in 2018 with 1,318.


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