Cyclone Insider: ISU’s road to the Big 12 title game
Rodney White, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler insists he hasn’t thought much about about whether to enter the NFL Draft or return to Iowa State for a final season
That doesn’t mean the gifted pass-catcher doesn’t face a big decision in the coming months.
“He’s a guy that’s going to definitely have an NFL decision to make after the year and have to decide what’s best for him,” said Dane Brugler, an NFL Draft analyst for The Athletic. “He’s a redshirt junior, fourth-year junior, so he’s not a young guy. He’s been around the program and understands how things work.”
Butler has become one of the top stars in the Big 12 this season.
He leads Iowa State in receptions (33), receiving yards (791) and touchdown catches (eight). His 24 yards-per-reception ranks first in the nation — an incredible stat given that Butler is 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds.
Butler’s playmaking ability, with highlight-reel catch after highlight-reel catch, is making him a well-known name in NFL scouting circles. And rightfully so, said NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt.
“He’s one of the premier wide receivers in the country,” Brandt said.
Brugler outlined what has stood about Butler for him.
“You love the size,” Brugler said. “You love the play strength. You love his ability to adjust to the football down the field. But in college, especially the Big 12, he can do that on those 50/50 balls, but in the NFL, when he’s facing NFL-level corners, those 50/50 balls are more like 20/80 balls.”
Brugler said there’s also questions about Butler’s speed and his route-running. But he believes there is so much potential with Butler that the Iowa State star could land somewhere in the second or third round.
Brandt, one of the most-respected talent evaluators in NFL history, said he could even possibility go in the late first round. But Butler first has to answer some of those questions about his speed and route running.
And while the rest of the season could help his cause, he’ll likely have to show those things aren’t an issue during Iowa State’s Pro Day and the NFL Scouting Combine, assuming he gets an invitation.
Until then, Butler remains an interesting player for draft evaluators.
“He’s going to be a tough evaluation because he’s that big receiver with average speed and he’s going to be viewed probably where on the Day 2 (Rounds 2 and 3 of the draft) for a team looking for a big-play threat,” Brugler said. “The grades will be all over the map. I think some teams might even have him on Day 3. And some might have him on Day 2.”
But until then, Butler said he’s not worrying about any of that.
Butler asked for feedback from the NFL after last season and he’ll likely do the same this season. But for now, he said his focus is on this season.
And no, he hasn’t made a decision yet.
“I haven’t even really thought that far,” Butler said. “(Iowa State coach Matt) Campbell and I always talk about living in the moment. That’s the big thing here so I just go day-to-day, week-to-week. I haven’t made any decision like that.
“If the opportunity is there, you have to think about it. But, right now, I’m just focused on football.”
Source: Des Moines Register