Emmanuel Butler 6’4 220 lbs WR Northern Arizona
The first thing you notice about Emmanuel Butler is his long, well-proportioned frame. He is a big kid at 6’4 220 lbs, but he has a gracefulness about him. He never looks like he is hurried or frenetic. he has a calm, relaxed appearance, like he is just going about his business. He is a big play receiver who averaged over 17 yards a reception during his time with the Lumberjacks. He was a team leader in the locker room, and his coaches all rave about this kid who owns all the receiving records at Northern Arizona University.
Butler played in the FCS (the Football Championship Subdivision) in the Big Sky Conference with teams like Weber State, Montana and Southern Utah. At times it seemed like Butler was just so much better than the people he played against. Here he has two TD receptions that he just muscled away from the defender.
On both plays he does a nice job of catching the ball away from his body and shows good balance for a big man. He keeps his feet and sprints away from the defender. Many receivers are happy just to make the catch and fall down. Butler always tries to keep the play going and get as much YAC as he can get.
Here he is on just a streak route. It is nothing fancy. Just run by your defender. UTEP even has a safety over the top, but he gets mesmerized by the bouncing ball and lets Butler glide right by him for an uncontested TD.
Butler appears to have soft hands, and he shows great concentration on a double tipped ball while running full speed and between two defenders. There is a lot going on, but he makes the play calmly and ends up with a long TD.
On this play Butler is running a “9” route down the sideline, and runs right by his guy leaving him in the dust. The ball is thrown just ahead of him, and he again shows great concentration to reach out and snag the ball. Being 6’ 4 has it’s advantages.
Again you see Butler didn’t leave his feet and caught the ball with his hands. Many receivers would rather dive in the air to catch the ball. When you are in the air the ball is still just as if you were standing there waiting for it to come to you. When you run, because of your feet hitting the ground, the ball is kind of dancing in the sky. This just shows that Butler is very at ease with catching a ball while he is in full stride.
When you are a tall receiver it takes you a little more time to get up to top speed than a shorter receiver. Unless all your pass patterns are 30 yards or longer you are going to have to make contested catches if you are a tall receiver; there is no way around it.
Fortunately Butler excels at contested catches. On the first play he takes the underthrown pass off the back of the defender then just abuses him, throwing to the ground like an old tissue. The second play is another nice catch with the defender in his hip pocket and reaching for the ball. Again it is nice to have Butler’s length, and he uses it well.
Having a large frame is useful not in just length as you can also use your body to shield the defender from the pass with the correct positioning.
This is a smart play as the Lumberjacks see that there is no deep safety so the middle of the field is wide open. This 35 yard TD could not be simpler once the CB allows Butler to cross his face. Now all he needs to do is keep the defender on is back and “box him out” from the ball. The defender is helpless to stop the throw unless he interferes with Butler.
Butler is fairly agile for a big man and is able to get yards after the catch. He had 187 career receptions in college, and many were of the shorter variety. He had 3.222 yards and 33 TDs and gained many of those yards in YAC. Here he is weaving through traffic on a simple little 5 yard hitch route.
It seems weird to see such a long strider picking his way through the defense. This is not a staple of his repertoire, but he has the ability to make people miss and gain extra yards.
These next two throws are more like what you will see Butler doing in the NFL. With his size and ability to high point the ball Butler should be a demon in the red zone.
You can see he is being grabbed, pushed, and held in an effort to keep him close. It is not a great strategy because with Butler’s severe height advantage all the QB needs to do is get the ball thrown just over Butlers head and let him do the rest. Teams foolishly try a fade pass or lob to the back of the end zone when all you need when you have a tall receiver is to throw the ball high and let him go get it; end of story.
In football you have to make plays when you have the chance. Here again are two plays where Butler does just that. Butler shows off his soft hands and in the case of the first video soft hand.
If you notice on these plays and all the sideline catches before, Butler always gives his QB plenty of space to fit the ball in. You will even see NFL receivers get pushed to the sideline, but Butler is smart enough and strong enough not to let that happen. This also keeps him from accidentally stepping out of bounds on the catch.
These two plays again are just Butler making plays in the end zone to haul in a TD. The first play I couldn’t get the video to work for some reason, and all you get is the catch. It’s pretty self-evident that he boxes out the defender then just jumps up to secure the catch.
The second play is more definitive in that you can see Butler holding off the defender, but when the ball is thrown too short he closes that gap, reaches over the defender, and makes the catch. I was not going to include these catches in this article, but I wanted you to see that Butler made a lot of plays pretty much by himself. Many times I see video of small school WR’s and they catch the ball with no one around them or dash 60 yards for a TD untouched. That is not the way it will happen in the NFL, and Butler has the skill set to be a force if he makes it on a team.
This next play is not a sideline route or against a FCS team. It is a post route against the University of Arizona who was ranked 20th in the nation at the time.
You see he is able to shield the defender just enough so that he is not able to break up the pass, and Butler is strong enough to keep his feet, break a tackle and gallop into the end zone. This 62 yard TD against in state rival Arizona is one of Butlers favorite highlights.
Emmanuel Butler is an impressive athlete and he recently played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl where he competed against other Draft eligible prospects. He caught three passes for 46 yards with including the games longest completion of 32 yards. He turned heads during the week of practices and put himself on the draft radar.
Butler has played in 45 college games. H injured his shoulder in the 2nd game of his senior season and had surgery to repair that injury. He requested and received a medical redshirt in 2017 so he could play the 2018 season for the Lumberjacks. He has a rib injury this year that kept him out of 1 1⁄2 games, but both injuries have long healed and are not a concern going forward.
Other NFL players have come out of the Big Sky Conference including our own Trumaine Johnson and Vincent Jackson (San Diego) so it’s not like he is coming from a conference that is Division III or lower.
Because of his small school status Butler will be a late day three draft selection or possibly a UDFA, although I think he gets picked near the end of the 6th or early in the 7th round. I graded him out as a 5th round prospect which is high for most in the draft community, but I feel he has very good skills (ball skills, concentration, FB IQ, Character, leadership, etc). He will need to learn an NFL route tree and learn how to beat press coverage. He has never been timed but my guess is he will run between a 4.53- 4.63/40 which is ok for a receiver his size.
All reports I have seen say this is a really good kid. He will turn 23 in August so he is a little older than most rookies but not by much.
Let me know what you think...