The Detroit Lions need a slot receiver to help fill the void left by Golden Tate. But would they be willing to use their second rounder on this giant rookie?
When you think of slot receivers in the NFL, the mind often conjures an image of a 5-foot-8 speedster who is a bit of a one-trick pony. But could the receiver-needy Detroit Lions opt to go an entirely different direction in 2019?
Both Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia know the impact having a quality slot receiver can make. Both men are former members of the New England Patriots. A team that has won multiple Super Bowls utilizing slot receivers to their maximum potential. Wideouts like Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Troy Brown and Deion Branch have all helped to lead the Pats to championships.
After trading away Pro Bowl slot receiver Golden Tate last season to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2019 third-round selection, Detroit missed having consistent play from the position. The Lions could address that need in free agency, with names like Cole Beasley and Adam Humphries scheduled to hit the open market next month.
But if the Lions elects to address the need via the draft instead, Detroit could choose to go a different direction when trying to find themselves the next, great slot receiver. Aiming a little higher, you might say.
Justin Rogers of The Detroit News thinks the 6-foot-6, 225 pound Hakeem Butler out of Iowa State could be a target for the slot receiver-needy Lions early on Day Two of the draft.
"“Butler actually played in the slot quite a bit for Iowa State, and although he isn’t the most polished route runner, his size and ability to extend gains after the catch proved problematic for the opposition … I would imagine if he’s still on the board when the Lions are picking in Round 2, he’ll be strongly considered.”"
Butler doesn’t necessarily have the speed to consistently win separation from defenders. Instead, his combination of size and power allow him to bully his way to larger passing windows. And once Butler has the ball in his hands, he’s deceptively quick and uses his power to truck smaller defenders.
Last season, Butler recorded 60 receptions for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 22.0 yards per catch. In preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine, the young receiver trained with none other than former Lions’ great, Calvin Johnson.
Hakeem Butler’s massive frame was a sizeable advantage in college but will be less effective on the pro-level. Still, Butler possesses a rare combination of size and ball skills that have several NFL teams intrigued by his potential. Apparently, the Detroit Lions should be as well.