Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
40-yard dash: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Look beyond the funny name and you’ll find a potential impact fantasy player.
Butt’s freshman year (2013) included a 5-85-1 line vs. powerhouse Ohio State. Then, in February of 2014, he tore his right ACL and meniscus in a February workout. That cost him the first 2 games of the season. He’d also miss a November game vs. Indiana for disciplinary reasons.
After the nondescript sophomore year, Butt really broke out in Jim Harbaugh’s first season as HC (2015). The 246-pounder snagged 4+ balls in 8 of 13 games. He exceeded 80 yards 3 times.
Butt again excelled in 2016 despite a subpar Michigan pass attack. (The Wolverines finished 85th in the country in passing YPG and T-67th in passing TDs.) Butt earned the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top TE. Hunter Henry, Nick O’Leary, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Tyler Eifert have won the award in recent years.
Unfortunately, Butt’s season ended abruptly in a December 30 bowl game vs. Florida State. Yet again, he tore his right ACL.
Once considered a top-64 pick, this latest injury will likely knock him down a round or 2. But he’s at least made encouraging progress in recent months.
"I'm not rushing anything, but I am ahead of schedule," Butt said at Michigan's pro day workout in late March. "I'm doing everything the trainers are asking me to do. I'm right on track. Timetable-wise, it could be as early as mid-July. That would be six months, but it could be as late as October 10th, which would put me at nine months. Could be anywhere between then.”
Given such a wide range, we’ll track his rehab closely.
Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com
Games watched - Ohio State, Utah (2015), Indiana (2015), Northwestern (2015)
Butt isn’t an explosive athlete like David Njoku or Evan Engram. That makes his 2nd ACL tear particularly worrisome.
Still, his game was never about athleticism. He’s a polished player with 49 career games behind him at a major program. And it really shows up on tape.
Let’s start with route running and his ability to set up defenders.
Butt runs a nice double-move in this next clip.
Butt often flashed strong hands at the point of attack. There's no way this ball should have been thrown ... but to the QB's credit, he put it in a great spot. And Butt delivered. With 10 inch hands, Butt should continue to flash reliable mitts in the pros.
Downfield chances were rare, but he shows an ability to adjust to the ball mid-air in this final clip.
Butt isn't a flashy prospect, but he's solid in all-areas. If healthy, his all-around game should boost his case for early-career playing time.
Still, we'll see how he responds to a 2nd ACL tear. Displaying average explosion to begin with, it's fair to question how he'll be able to separate in the NFL. Advanced route running helps, as he profiles as more of a Jason Witten or Heath Miller type of chain-mover. You're simply unlikely to get any fantasy ROI until at least 2018.