Hakeem Butler Could Prove to Be a Massive Value for the Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals kicked off the third day of the NFL Draft by snagging Iowa State Cyclones junior wide receiver Hakeem Butler, who fell further than some expected, and the team is now fast looking like they have one of the more intriguing young wide receiving corps in the NFL.
The future is bright for the Cards and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who is clearly trying to set up his air raid offense from Texas Tech Texas Tech in the desert.
The young quarterback and receivers (namely Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, Kevin White and late second-round pick Andy Isabella) will have Larry Fitzgerald back for at least one more season and a hungry David Johnson eager to show he can return to his pre-injury, top-five-running-back status.
With picking Butler 103 (the first pick in the fourth round), the Cardinals told their fan base they are ready to surround top pick Kyler Murraywith as much firepower as possible.
Polarizing Pick or Steal?
Despite drawing comparisons to Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Marshall, Butler fell in the draft. Drops at the collegiate level had some draft scouts concerned about his lack of concentration and ability to make the leap at the NFL level.
A combine star, Butler ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash and posted a 36-inch vertical jump and 128-inch broad jump at 6'5”, 228 pounds.
Matt Waldman of Football Guys and the Rookie Scouting Portfolio is extremely high on Butler's outlook, naming him his top receiver in the class.
Waldman took a close look at Butler's rare ability to run a "whip route" and placed him in some interesting company in doing so.
"The whip route is commonly a slot receiver’s tool," Waldman said. "Keenan Allen, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and several other NFL receivers with deer-like quicks frustrate safeties with this route. Yes, tight ends also run this route but they’re commonly matched up with linebackers when they run it.
"When a 6’6″, 225-pound receiver can run a whip route well enough that a cornerback has to foul him, it’s intel that should leap off the page..."
In 2018, Butler finished top-10 in the nation in receiving yards (1,318) and averaged 22.0 yards per reception, but NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said his routes are “basic and clunky and will limit how teams can use him." Ultimately, he also considered Butler well worth the risk.
Butler led Iowa State with 60 receptions and 9 touchdowns in 13 games. And over the past two years, Butler has eight touchdowns of over 40 yards, making him a threat to defensive backs and a scary cover based on his size.
With a veteran like Fitzgerald to help mold him, a creative offensive-minded coach, and a team loaded on talent for the future, Butler has the opportunity to be one of the biggest steals of the draft if he pops like many believe he can in the NFL.