After the departure of Iowa State’s all-time leading receiver Allen Lazard, Hakeem Butler was expected to step up and become the alpha dog, which he most certainly did. Now, he stands as an outside shot of being the first Cyclone to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft in four decades.
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 225 lbs.
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
NFL Draft Projections: Late 1st to late 2nd round.
Junior Stats: 60 receptions for 1,318 yards and 9 touchdowns. His 22.0 yds/rec average was good for third-best in the country.
Career Stats: 110 receptions for 2,149 yards (19.5 yds/rec) and 18 touchdowns.
Game to Watch: There are a lot to pick from here, so I’ll give you a few.
- 2018 Alamo Bowl vs. Washington State (9 rec, 192 yards)
- 2018 vs. Oklahoma (5 rec, 174 yards, 2 TDs)
- 2018 @ Kansas (5 rec, 164 yards, 2 TDS)
- 2017 vs. Iowa (5 rec, 128 yards, 2 TDs)
Pro Day/Scouting Combine Performance:
- 40-yard dash: 4.48 sec
- Bench press: 18 reps
- 20-yard shuttle: N/A
- Vertical leap: 36 inches
- Broad jump: 128 inches
The first thing that jumps out when you see the guy is that he is absolutely massive. He’s every bit of 6’5” and boasts a wingspan of almost 7’. His main question mark heading into the NFL Combine was his top end speed, but he answered every single question about his speed by running a 4.48 second 40 yard dash, which is really good for a guy his size.
Beyond his measurables, Hakeem boasts incredible body control in the air, allowing him to catch passes that most mortals wouldn’t even think about attempting to catch, and is an absolute bear to bring down once he makes the catch.
Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler is visiting the #49ers, per @MaioccoNBCS. My draft crush. 6-foot-5. 225 pounds. 4.48 40-yard dash. The plays he put on tape in 2018 are unmatched.— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) April 16, 2019
( : @thecheckdown)
Scouts will also love his versatility. He mainly played on the outside last season as the feature receiver, but for most of 2017 and occasionally in 2018, Hakeem lined up in the slot, where he was a matchup nightmare and routinely ruined the life of whatever poor linebacker was assigned to cover him. In the NFL he’ll project as an outside receiver and red zone threat, but teams will most certainly be able to line him up wherever they want.
However, he’s not a one-trick pony, as he’s also a physical run-blocker, as is required in Matt Campbell’s offense.
Hakeem Butler is on another level— Pod (@LAM0nt87) April 17, 2019
Winning at the line of scrimmage
Pushing defenders back multiple yards pic.twitter.com/xuZg4nWnGr
Route running will be an area of improvement for Hakeem once he gets to the next level, but the absolute most important thing Hakeem can do is improve his hands and eliminate some of the drops that occasionally showed up at Iowa State. In my opinion, how quickly he fixes this problem could determine his ceiling in the league. If he doesn’t improve his hands and concentration on the easy passes, then he’ll likely be a niche deep threat and red zone guy. However, if he can improve his consistency and tighten up his route running a little, he has a chance to be a perennial Pro Bowl selection.
WRNL Draft Prediction
If Hakeem Butler reaches his potential, we’re talking about legitimate WR1 for almost any team in the league, and a perennial Pro Bowl selection. However, his drops have given scouts some concern, and could lead to him falling into the late-second or even third round. Fortunately for Hakeem, lots of teams need help at receiver, and this wide receiver class doesn’t have a clear cut number one prospect. I would predict he goes no later than the middle of the second round, but I think a first-round selection is beginning to pick up steam.
In the first round, keep your eyes on Tennessee at 19, Baltimore at 22, Houston at 23, Indianapolis at 26, and Oakland at 27.
In the second round, keep your eyes on the 49ers at 36, Bills at 40, Packers at 44, Dolphins at 48, Vikings at 50, the Texans at either 54 or 55, and the Chiefs at 61 or 63.
Obviously a lot of things can and will happen before the Draft begins, but with so many teams looking for help at receiver, I think the odds of him getting taken in the first round are better than the odds of him getting taken after the second.