Jake Butt came to Michigan a four-star recruit with a hilarious last name, but leaves with several Michigan records, a shelf full of accolades and awards, and the admiration of Michigan fans everywhere. Entering the 2017 NFL Draft, Butt is one of the top tight ends available.
Jake Butt--or J Booty, as fans have come to affectionately call him--came to Michigan as part of the heralded 2013 recruiting class under Brady Hoke. He saw the field right away as a lanky freshman, and contributed 20 receptions for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns. He immediately showcased soft hands, crisp route running, and an ability to create separation.
Essentially replicating his freshman totals in his sophomore campaign, Butt was the unquestioned best option at tight end on the roster, and the staff moved Devin Funchess to wide receiver in part to create more opportunities for the talented sophomore.
The tight end friendly offense of Jim Harbaugh and Tim Drevno brought new life to the position and created an abundance of opportunities for the then junior. He responded with a career high in receptions (51) and receiving yards (654) and added 3 touchdowns. His chemistry with Jake Rudock that season was a big reason Michigan was able to win 10 games.
2016 saw Butt have another excellent season as a co-captain senior, where he set a career high in receiving touchdowns (4), helping him to win the Mackey award as the nation's top tight end. Jake finished his Michigan career with 138 receptions for 1,646 yards and 11 touchdowns, making him Michigan’s all-time leader for receptions and receiving yards for a tight end.
Jake suffered his second ACL tear in the Orange Bowl loss to Florida State, so he was unable to participate in the NFL combine or Michigan's pro day. He measures in at 6’5” and 246 pounds, with 32” arms and 10” hands. Those are excellent measurables for a pass catching tight end, though he could stand to add a few pounds to his leanish frame.
What makes Butt such an intriguing NFL prospect is his ability to create mismatches as a pass catcher. J Booty has incredibly soft hands and can high point the ball above defenders. He is an exceptional route runner that can create separation at the line using his savvy and a fairly effective swat move. Butt is not a burner, but takes long strides and can outrun a lot of linebackers down the middle of the field, and seems to just find a way to get open.
Jake uses his body incredibly well to shield defenders and make the catch away from his body. Take a look at this catch against Utah where the defense knew they wanted to get him the ball, essentially triple teamed him, and Butt just out muscles all of them for the catch.
A willing blocker, if not an incredibly fearsome one, Butt can disrupt linebacker and corner blitzes on the edge. His football I.Q and leadership are off the charts, and he should be an asset in the locker room.
The knock on Butt, is his lack of top tier athleticism. He is not the fastest tight end you will find (and that was before the knee injury) and may have trouble separating from the quicker linebackers in the NFL. Adding some weight to his frame could also help him to create separation at the line of scrimmage and to hold up as a blocker.
The only other thing holding Butt back from first round status is the two serious knee injuries up to this point. If not for those—and perhaps with a few more touchdowns—Butt might be the second tight end off the board after OJ Howard.
His measurables are similar to that of a Zach Miller (6’5”- 243 lbs) or a Greg Olsen (6’5”-255 lbs), but to me his game is reminiscent of former Colts standout and fellow Mackey award winner Dallas Clark. He is smooth in his routes and seems to always be on the same page with the quarterback, making him an excellent safety blanket or dump down option.
When it is all said and done, expect the Michigan legend to have a long and prosperous career at the next level. If he ends up in the right situation with a ready made quarterback starter, he could quickly become one of the preferred targets and a reliable safety blanket for years to come.
What round of the NFL draft is Jake Butt taken in?
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5th or below