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PFF scouting report: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan

Name: Jake Butt

School: Michigan

Position: Tight end

Stat to know: Had the No. 3 receiving grade among the nation’s tight ends in 2015 at 88.0.

What he does best:

  • Effective jab step prior to breaking on in/out routes creates extra separation from defender.
  • Very strong feel for zone coverage, with both horizontal and vertical routes.
  • Maintains speed through 45-degree angle breaks, extremely effective post and corner route-runner.
    • 2015-2016 on post and corner routes: 24 targets, 17 catches, 394 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception; Michigan QBs had a 135.4 QB Rating when targeting Butt on those two routes.
  • Doesn’t waste steps horizontally with the ball in his hands. Plants foot and looks to turn upfield immediately after making a catch.
  • Good awareness, has a sense of coverage closing in.
  • Large catch radius; no issue going to the ground for the ball despite height.
  • Capable of making catches in a crowd.
  • Gains extra yards through contact.
  • Improved as a run-blocker in 2016, and he’s certainly a willing blocker, though there’s still a lot of room to improve.

Biggest concern:

  • Coming off a torn ACL suffered in December.
  • Run-blocking in general is going to be a struggle.
  • Feet get too close together when moving laterally inline; allows defenders to overpower him, at times bringing him to the ground.
  • Over pursues as he goes to setup his blocks, often gives away leverage; see this often at the second level as well.
  • Inexperience in pass protection; hasn’t shown strong ability in pass protection when asked to stay in.
    • Asked to pass block on just 11.6 percent of his passing snaps last season (167th out of 197 draft-eligible tight ends); surrendered eight pressures on 85 pass block attempts over the past two seasons.
  • Lots of production came on underneath, open crossing routes.
  • Not going to create a whole lot of separation based off athleticism.
  • Not elusive, not going to create many missed tackles.

Player comparison: Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills

Butt is a bit taller than Clay and doesn’t project to be as proficient as a run-blocker as Clay has been throughout his NFL career, but both of them should be used similarly in the passing game, which is what Butt brings to the table. Neither Clay nor Butt lined up much in the slot (Clay did once upon a time but that percentage has dropped drastically over the past few seasons) but neither one of them have been relied upon as a pass-protector, despite regularly coming off the line of scrimmage. Clay has been a reliable receiving option in the short-to-intermediate range and that is what Butt should be for years to come.

Bottom line: If you’re drafting Butt and expecting him to be the complete package as an NFL tight end, you’re going to be disappointed with the results. Butt has limitations as a run-blocker, both at the line of scrimmage and as he moves up to the second level. He’s not overly athletic but moves well enough and he doesn’t mess around with the ball in his hands, as soon as he catches it he turns up field and looks to squeeze out as much from every play as he can. Butt is a reliable target with a penchant for finding open space underneath the coverage, he may not make chunk yardage plays consistently at the next level, but he should have no issues helping a team move the chains.

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