Jake Butt grew up in Columbus, Ohio but played football for the “team up north”. His play for Michigan put him on the radar as an All-American candidate his senior year. A four-year starter, Butt has shown the ability to make impact plays at crucial times.
From watching the tape a few things stand out. Jake Butt has really good hands. When the ball goes his way, he usually comes down with the catch. He gets off the line of scrimmage well to get into his routes.
His NFL.com scouting report, written by Lance Zierlein, reflects these thoughts:
"Has NFL size and steps up big in the passing game. Strong hands are like magnets. Can snatch and secure at the catch point. Tough and reliable when working in traffic. Fearless in the middle of the field and understands how to protect himself and the ball while there. Slick with hands. Has slap move to free himself off line of scrimmage and able to create separation at top of his route with sly push-offs."
Butt also does a good job of finding holes in zones. It was clear from the game against Ohio State that Butt understands his assignment and has the football IQ to improvise within the structure of the play to help his quarterback. As his scouting report continues:
"Sinks into space and chews up zone coverage. Play attributes will help him win in the red zone. Effective in intermediate work adjusting routes according to defensive positioning. Competitive after catch with ability to add to his yardage through force."
All this to say Jake Butt is a smart receiver with excellent hands. Unfortunately, things take a downhill turn from there.
Jake Butt needs help as a blocker. He played the H-back role in the Michigan offense. He would line up outside as a mismatch problem, inline as a blocker and motion to a fullback position.
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Unfortunately, moving Butt around seemed more like a decoy than an attempt to put him in position to block. In fact, Michigan used a different tight end to block inline. When he did what he calls “block”, it was more of a grab and hold situation. He was not on the field to block and he played like it.
On his blocking ability, his scouting report states:
"Grabby as a blocker and takes questionable angles up to second level. Allows physical outside linebackers to set strong edges against him. Needs more commitment and work as a run-blocker on NFL level.Grabby as a blocker and takes questionable angles up to second level. Allows physical outside linebackers to set strong edges against him. Needs more commitment and work as a run-blocker on NFL level."
Further, Butt does not show the ability to get good separation in routes. He mainly gets open on plays specifically designed to get him open or when the defense forgets about him. Needs to improve getting open one on one. He also needs to improve his route running at the NFL level as well. His scouting report is right on the mark when he states about Butt:
"Separation often comes from rub routes and scheme. NFL linebackers should be able to stick him in coverage. Limited catch radius.Separation often comes from rub routes and scheme. NFL linebackers should be able to stick him in coverage. Limited catch radius."
In sum, Jake Butt is an H-back who lacks the blocking ability and vertical speed to play the position in the NFL. His value in the NFL may be as a blocking tight end (which he will have to learn), as a possession receiver and red zone threat. He has a lot of learning to do at the NFL.
Jake Butt is a project.