With the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis just around the corner, it's time to keep a close watch on some intriguing prospects.
Next up — Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler.
At 6-5, 225 pounds, Butler is everything a team could want physically out of a No. 1 receiver. The only thing keeping his draft stock down is his technique. Some scouts aren't crazy about the way he catches the ball and the risks he takes in doing so. At the same time, his film is filled with highlight catches.
Statistically, there's a lot to like about Butler. He caught 60 balls for 1,318 yards in 2018. That averages out to a ridiculous 22 yards per reception. Nine of those catches were for scores.
From a one-on-one matchup standpoint, Butler is physically dominant over anyone who lines up across from him. If you throw the ball up and it's anywhere near him, he'll come down with it every time in a jump-ball situation.
Unfortunately for Butler, NFL teams are trending away from big-bodied No. 1 wideouts in favor of smaller, more agile route-runners who excel at finding pockets in the middle of the field.
As he heads to Indianapolis for the combine, his focus should be on improving his route-running to show that he can be dependable on intermediate routes. Because of his size and jump-ball ability, he'll find a spot on an NFL roster. If he wants to be an everyday starter, however, he'll need to convince NFL brass that he's an every-down receiver.
As it stands, Hakeem Butler is projected to be anywhere from the 10th to 15th receiver taken in the draft, somewhere in the third or fourth round. If he can flash improved route running, dependable hands and run the forty a tick faster than expected, there's a good chance a team will be confident enough to take him in the late second or early third round.
Regardless of where he ends up, he should be in a team's red zone package immediately.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.