2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: WR Hakeem Butler

Player Description:

Name: Hakeem Butler

Position: Wide Receiver

College: Iowa State

Class: Junior

Height: 6’6

Weight: 225 lbs

I knew little about Hakeem Butler until I saw him play against the Oklahoma Sooners in week three. Here was this tall, long, physical receiver I had never seen before, yet here he was, having his way with the Sooners secondary. As expected his team did not win but they keep it close because of him; he finished with 174 receiving yards and two touchdowns. At that point, I realized that he is the type of player with star-potential at the next level if given the right team and system.

After being redshirted his freshman year, Butler contributed the following season with nine catches for 134 yards in 11 games played. His sophomore season last year saw him earn All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and earn a spot on the Tyler Rose Award Watch list, as he broke out with 697 receiving yards on 41 receptions. He ranked second on his Cyclones squad in receiving yards and tied for third in reception. What became evident this season was Butler’s deep threat abilities as he accounted for four 50-yard+ plays that season.


Physical Play:

Butler plays with an angry disposition. This not to say he’s an angry person, he plays with the type of physicality that can overwhelm defensive backs; think of it as a linebacker approach to the wide receiver position. He as difficult to take down as it is to cover him, and if the opportunity presents itself, he will make you pay. Take for instance this play from his breakout game against Oklahoma;

What separates decent receivers from the good ones, in my opinion, is YAC (yards after the catch). In this play, Butler runs a basic seam route, catches the ball between two defenders, and breaks several tackles before scoring.  As I noted, he is the type of player that is hard to take down, this clip is just a sample of it.


Route Running:

As expected, Butler’s route tree is not very diverse, then again, I believe it may not matter. From what I have seen, Butler is likely the types of receiver that does not need more than two routes to be effective. Butler primarily runs Go routes, with the occasional Post or Cross. He is not necessarily the fastest route runner, but his strength allows him the luxury of running at the pace he chooses, especially in one-on-one situations which he often wins; 50/50 balls, he will often win them. This clip against West Virginia is an example of what happens when a cornerback less than 6’1 tries to match up against him.


Catching the Ball:

The defining aspect about Butler is his ability to make combat catches. He is seemingly at his best when he is being blanketed by a receiver, where he can go up, high-point the ball in the air and come down with the catch. In this example against Oklahoma State, we see Butler at right wide receiver and a Cowboys cornerback in press coverage against him. From the beginning, the Cowboys cornerback did a good job not allowing him to get too much separation. The Cyclones quarterback did a great job of extending the play, the rest of the clip speaks for itself.


Butler is a big receiver that is not shy about using his size and abilities to his advantage; hence one of the many reasons why is good at what he does. By no means is Butler a polished player, yet he has all the makings of becoming a big-time playmaker at the next level if he commits to working on sharpening his routes and getting better separation against defensive backs. Otherwise, he one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in college football.

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