Why the Slide?: Hakeem Butler

Why the Slide?: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Five years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Three years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

During the leadup to the 2019 NFL Draft, Butler enjoyed a lot of positive praise from the media. That was especially true after the 6-foot-5, 227-pound receiver impressed at the NFL Scouting Combine by running a fast 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds. Butler also had a quality junior year for the Cyclones, catching 60 passes for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns. Hence, there were some media projections of him being a first-round pick and one of the top wide receiver prospects in the draft. Thusm many were surprised when he slipped to the first selection in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Butler slipping to Round 4 was not surprising to NFL teams. In early April, WalterFootball.com surveyed team sources at seven different teams, and none of them had Butler graded as a first-round pick. They all expected him to go well into the second day of the draft. “He’s being overrated by the media,” said one director of college scouting. The highest grade among those seven teams was a late second-round grade. Others thought he could go in the middle of to late during Day 2, and many had third-round grades on Butler. Thus, Butler going as the 103rd-overall pick was not much of a slide according to NFL teams.

The Arizona Cardinals selected Butler to open the third day of the 2019 NFL Draft, and that was an okay landing spot for him. For the immediate future, he appears buried on the depth chart behind future Hall of Fame Larry Fitzgerald, second-year pro Christian Kirk, and 2019 second-round pick Andy Isabella. But in the longer run, Butler is in a good place to prove to be the replacement for Fitzgerald. Arizona has a lot of competition for backup receiver roster spots, but with its draft-pick investment in Butler, he is all but guaranteed to be on the team in 2019. In the red zone, Butler should be a part of the Cardinals’ package with his mismatch size, so as a rookie he could see some important targets. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury runs a passing-driven offense, and Butler brings size that Isabella and Kirk don’t have. Thus, Butler will have an excellent opportunity to stick in the NFL and show that he could be a starter of the future in Arizona.

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