Arizona Cardinals rookie film room: 5 plays that define Hakeem Butler
Play 4: @ Baylor, 2nd quarter, 2:32 remaining, 1st & 10
What the offense is running: Four-wide vertical pass out of the shotgun. Both inside receivers run go routes while the outside receivers run comebacks to keep shallow cornerbacks in check.
What the defense is running: Cover 2.
What Hakeem Butler is tasked to do: Run a go route.
What happens: This is what happens when Butler is in the slot against off-man coverage. He blows past the defender, without worry as to where the sideline is. His release isn’t too complicated in this play; it’s a sidestep outside of the cornerback’s frame, which forces the defender to play catch up.
The absurd part of this play comes from the catch and the run after it. Butler shows great ball tracking to pinpoint, then attack the ball. He’s not a bread-basket deep ball catcher. Instead, he typically catches similar to the play above; attacking the ball and tracking it into his eyes.
Since this is Hakeem Butler, the play is then finished with unmatched physicality — like the catch wasn’t enough.
- What more can be said about Butler as a deep-ball threat? His frame alongside his improving ball-tracking and catch radius makes him a threat to take it to the house every play.
- Again, I love that he’s doing this in the slot. Due to his size, many have said he’d be a solid tight end. While it’s unlikely that will be the case for him with the Cardinals, it’s not unlikely that he’ll receive opportunities as a big slot.
- The throw was an underthrow, which is a common theme for his quarterbacks not named Brock Purdy. Though he ultimately wins, he wouldn’t have had to deal with the cornerback in his face if the ball was put in front of him. Luckily, anticipatory deep-ball throwing is Kyler Murray’s strong suit.