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Drafting Hakeem Butler would finally give Giants fans the big receiver they’ve been asking for

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Is Hakeem Butler’s size the missing ingredient in the Giants’ offense?

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Iowa State vs Washington State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants fans have been aching for a big receiver. They have looked to the draft for a receiver who would look at home on an NBA court since an ill-fated night more than a decade ago when Plaxico Burress made a bad decision and ended his night -- and career with the Giants -- with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Let’s look at Iowa State’s 6-foot-5 3/8, 227-pound Hakeem Butler.

Last year the average size of the 1,000-yard receivers in the NFL was roughly 6-foot-1, and 207 pounds, and the Giants have had a quartet of very (to wildly) successful receivers who were average to under-sized since then. But still the desire for a big receiver remains, and Giants’ fans might have found their kindred spirit in Dave Gettleman. Gettleman has already stated that “football is a big man’s game”, and he has a history of drafting mammoth receivers at Carolina. And after shipping Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns, the GIants have a big hole in their offense. Gettleman could look to fill that hole with Hakeem Butler out of Iowa State, one of the biggest receiver in the draft.

Measurables

Pros

  • Outstanding size and athleticism.
  • Good release off the line of scrimmage against zone or off-man coverage
  • Very strong hands to make catches in traffic.
  • Extends to snatch the ball out of the air.
  • Played both wide receiver and slot.
  • Very physical and plays up to expectations for his size and strength.

Cons

  • Needs to get better separating from press-man coverage.
  • Route running needs work.
  • Field awareness seems questionable at times.
  • Suffers some concentration drops.
  • Isn’t dynamic after the catch.

Numbers Of Note

Statistics from Dan Pizzuta

  • Per the Sports Info Solutions Rookie Handbook, Butler’s 3.7 yards per route run ranks third in this class behind Andy Isabella (4.2) and Emmanuel Hall (3.9)
  • Butler’s 5.12 Target Yards Added is sixth among receivers in this draft class
  • While Butler had an average depth of target (aDOT) of 15.9 in 2018, only 47.2 percent of his routes went further than 15 yards down the field, just below the class average of 48.6 percent.
  • 24.6 percent of Butler’s routes came from the slot

Prospect Video

What They’re Saying

“Among the most productive receivers in college football last season, Butler was able to dominate the Big 12 with his size, explosiveness and physicality. Butler plays to his size and will present matchup problems at the next level. Butler does have some limitations in terms of agility that limit his route running and ability to beat press coverage, but his most notable concern is inconsistent with his hands. With that said, Butler offers and intriguing toolbox with considerable upside to develop into a productive X receiver at the next level.”

- Joe Marino (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)

Does He Fit The Giants?

Whether or not Hakeem Butler fits the Giants’ offense is an interesting question at this point. Despite adding Golden Tate in free agency, the Giants don’t have a receiver on the roster who can truly threaten defenses and do so from the outside. In that, Butler would be a solid fit for the Giants -- he fills a massive hole at which they do not have player with a proven track record of success.

But taking things a step further, Butler’s fit in the Giants offense is a bit more tenuous. Their scheme is dependent on quick passes and precision route running to allow receivers to separate quickly and move as a unit within the concept of any particular play. Those traits are not among Butler’s strong points as a receiver coming out.

He is a big, physical bully with surprising athleticism, but quick and precise do not describe his game at all. And there will be a limit to just how far he can advance that part of his game. Butler can’t escape physics, and will never have the cutting ability of a player like Sterling Shepard who is not only about 30 pounds lighter, but also eight inches shorter, and able to drop his hips that much lower.

There is a place in the Giants’ offense for a player like Butler, who will primarily be a linear receiver at the next level, using his size and speed to overwhelm defensive backs. The Giants could use a player like Butler in short yardage and red zone situations, as well as helping to keep defenses from stacking the line of scrimmage against the run. And Butler’s size will likely appeal to Dave Gettleman, who has repeatedly drafted mammoth receivers in the past, and seemed to favor them in free agency.

If the Giants want to draft him, they will likely have to do so in the middle of the first round -- and with the understanding that he will need time and coaching to reach his potential.