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As I pointed out in my Build-A-Ballard

The Colts prospect interviews are rolling along as we approach the NFL Draft. Todayís player interview is Wisconsin Linebacker Ryan Connelly. The Colts could use depth in their linebacker core and..."The Colts prospect interviews are rolling along as we approach the NFL Draft. Todayís player interview is Wisconsin Linebacker Ryan Connelly. The Colts could use depth in their linebacker core and Connelly would be a great addition on and off the field for this Coltsí team.As usual Womens Malik Hooker Jersey , the interview will be towards the bottom of the page.Connelly interviewed exclusively with Stampede Blue to talk about walking on at Wisconsin, earning a Team Captaincy in 2018, and how he is being underrated in this draft process.BackgroundSize:6í2Ē 242 poundsMeasurables: 40 Time: 4.67 / 10-yard split: 1.62 / Bench Reps: 17 Reps / Vertical Jump: 34.5 inches / Broad Jump: 118 inches / 3-Cone: 7.09 secondsCareer Stats:251 total tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles in his career.Round Projection:Rounds 5-6Fit with the Colts: The Colts appear set with their starting linebackers as Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker both enter another year on the team. They need to work on adding quality depth behind them, though. When either player missed time last year, the drop off in play was rather noticeable. Adding a player like Connelly would help in a variety of ways. First, he can replace Najee Goode as a core special teamer. In addition to providing help there, he can also serve as a solid backup who can step in and play whenever needed. A hard working locker room player who fits the team well and can be had on Day 3? Seems like a great fit to me.Film RoomConnellyís ability to get into the backfield and make plays immediately pops. He makes a ton of plays in the opponentís backfield.Connelly brings some upside as a blitzer, as well. Heís constantly in the backfield and has an innate ability to get by pass-protecting running backs.Connelly is just a really solid linebacker that gives 100% effort on every single play.InterviewZH: So, you walked on at Wisconsin after a successful high school career. What went into that decision to walk on there?RC: Really that was my only opportunity to play any sort of Division I football. That was something I really wanted to do, so it was like my only chance and I took it.ZH: I saw that you played QB in high school. How difficult was the transition from high school QB to Wisconsin linebacker?RC: It was... a little bit rough at first, transitioning. Not having played defense in a while, just tackling was foreign to me at first. I knew I wasnít going to be a Division I quarterback so I put on some weight to get a little bigger, and I think that kind of helped ease the transition a little bit.ZH: Before we get to the on the field stuff, I read that you were a member of NFF Hampshire Honor Society and All Academic Big Ten player. Were your off the field academics and activities important to you in college?RC: Yes sir. Being a walk on, I had to get into school here first before I could join the team, because that is really how it worked back then. Yeah, though, it has been a big focus, but obviously football has always been my first love.ZH: How great did it feel to go from former walk on to eventually being a player who earned an invite to the Combine?RC: It was pretty exciting and surreal. I remember growing up watching it on NFL Network every year, and getting that invitation and knowing that I would have a chance to go there to do the thing Iíve been watching on TV was pretty cool. ZH: You were a Team Captain this past season at Wisconsin. What did it mean to receive that honor?RC: It was huge, man Andrew Luck Jersey , especially because it was voted on by my peers and then Coach Chryst ultimately chose. It was quite the honor to be recognized that way. I was pretty happy with that.ZH: You dealt with injuries this past season in college. How are you feeling now, though, with all that recovery?RC: Everything is going well. Finally being able to lift is a good feeling. This past season, I wasnít able to squat or do any major lifts because of my core muscle/sports hernia. Now that it is fixed, I am finally able to get back into the weight room like Iím used to and get back to full strength. ZH: Looking at your film, you make a ton of plays in the backfield and force tackles for a loss. What is the key to making plays like that?RC: I think it is two things. One is the confidence to trust what you see and the other is being prepared and having an understanding of what is about to happen. When you have confidence and trust what you see, that is when you can play fast and that is when you can get in the backfield and get TFLís and whatnot. ZH: Linebackers are often called the quarterback of a defense. Would you describe yourself as that?RC: Sure, man. My responsibility at Wisconsin was me and TJ, as my other linebacker, was that we always would set the front, give different coverage communication calls, and we were definitely the center of everything in terms of being the directors of the defense.ZH: Instincts are always talked about as being important for linebackers. In your words though, what are instincts for a linebacker?RC: I would say that it is the ability to feel the play before it happens. I donít know if whether that comes down to film study or just having done it before or what it is. Itís really just something you feel about to happen and then you react on it. In order to then execute on the instinct, you have to have confidence to be able to do it. ZH: So you went to a big school, were super-productive, loved by your coaches and teammates, and put up excellent numbers at the combine yet I rarely see your name in mock drafts and draft circles. Do you feel like you are being underrated right now?RC: Thatís kind of been my whole career. Iíve always kind of flown under the radar. Honestly, Iím just ready to get to a team and then be able to show that I belong there wherever I land. So Iím just excited to get this process over with and get back to normal football again. ZH: Who in the NFL do you compare yourself to/model your game after?RC: I love watching Luke Kuechly. You can just tell how cerebral he is on the field and that is something that I want to get to. You can tell he knows the play before it is even happening and I really want to get to that point.ZH: Last question is Colts-related. The Colts have very good linebackers in Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker. What would you bring to that linebacker group if this team drafts you? On and off the field, what would the Colts be getting?RC: I think the biggest thing is just another backer that they can depend on. At Wisconsin, I was always where I was supposed to be, I was always doing my responsibility, and if you needed a play in a big moment, then you could depend on me. I think they could just have added depth and someone they could count on if there were an injury an injury to occur at all. Can the talented Hakeem Butler be another weapon for Andrew Luck?" NFL DraftRoad to the DraftIndianapolis Colts Draft CentralColts Prospect Film Room: WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa StateNew,88commentsCan the talented Hakeem Butler be another weapon for Andrew Luck?EDTWith the primary surge of Free Agency wrapping up Womens Darius Leonard Jersey , the focus for the Indianapolis Colts turns to the draft, where GM Chris Ballard looks to hit another home run with the 2019 class. Last draft season, Ballard drafted Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard, who both ended up earning First Team All-Pro honors as rookies. On top of that, he also drafted a handful of contributors in Braden Smith, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Nyheim Hines, and Matthew Adams.This film room series will attempt to highlight certain prospects that may interest the Colts and go through their film to find their strengths and weaknesses. Todayís prospect is Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler. Butler is a player that put together an outstanding Senior year and posted insane numbers at the Combine as well.We will look through the film and see what Butler could potentially bring to the Colts if they end up drafting him. Clips in this piece will be from five games that I watched, all three were on coachís film. The full list of games watched were against Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Washington State.
BackgroundSize:6í5Ē 227 pounds with 35.25 inch armsMeasurables: 40 Time: 4.48 / 10-yard split: 1.59 / Bench: 18 reps / Vertical Jump: 36 inches / Broad Jump: 128 inches Career Stats:110 catches for 2,149 yards for 18 touchdowns. Averaged 19.5 yards per catch as well in his three year career.Round Projection:Late Round 1/Early Round 2
StrengthsBody Control/ConcentrationAn extremely underrated part of playing receiver in the NFL is the ability to adjust your body in mid-air to make plays. Passes are rarely perfect, especially with how tight the windows are in the NFL, so it is up to receivers to make plays when quarterbacks throw it up for them. Butler does an excellent job of contorting his body to make difficult catches, as well as tracking passes that are tipped or off-target.First play is a perfect example of passes being off-target and receivers having to adjust. Obviously an NFL quarterback can put more air on this pass but still these types of plays happen in the NFL as well. Butler beats his man with a clean double move but the pass is severely underthrown. He comes back to the pass and makes a great catch over the defenderís back. He finishes the play with an excellent stiff arm for the score.This next clip shows off his elite level of concentration as well when the ball is in the air. The pass is again underthrownó his QB at Iowa State was not great, obviouslyó and thrown into triple coverage this time. As Butler goes up for the pass, it is knocked up in the air by the safety. He does a great job of keeping his balance, though. and locating the ball off of the tip. He is able to find the ball and pull it in for a great catch and a big play for his offense.This next clip may be Butlerís most impressive play of the year. The quarterback rolls out of the pocket and throws a pass near the sideline towards Butler. Knowing he has little room to work with, Butler is able to extend out of bounds to reach the pass. He then shows the ability to contort and control his body by tapping his left foot in the back corner of the end zone for the touchdown. With his body control and concentration, he was a walking highlight reel last season at Iowa State.
Length/AthleticismThe biggest asset to Butlerís game is his overall length. Butler possesses 35.25 inch arms and a massive 83.875 inch wingspan. Combined with the fact that he is also a 4.48 athlete at 227 pounds,itís easy to see how he can make a ton of plays all over the field. His ability to extend and catch passes away from his frame though is quite rare and that wingspan will separate him from a lot other players in this class. This clip may not seem super impressive but his wingspan allows quarterbacks to throw passes further away from defenders than they could with most players. This is just a simple five yard out route but notice how far outside the quarterback is able to throw this pass. The cornerback has no chance to make a play on this ball and Butler is able to simply reach out and catch it with ease. This is just an example of how his wingspan and arm length make things easier for an offense.This next clip is another one of Butlerís best plays of the season. In the bowl game against Washington State, he made this outstanding one handed catch. The Iowa State quarterback gets hit as he throws the ball which causes the ball to sail a bit. Butler Peyton Manning Jersey White , however, is able to go up and make an insane play. This play may be the best example of how his length and athleticism are incredibly rare for a receiver.This last clip shows off how he could be used with his length and athleticism. The Colts have a ton of weapons that have to be accounted for in the red zone. If the Colts added a player like Butler, they could isolate him on one side and utilize his natural gifts to score in tight areas. He makes plays like these routinely in the red zone and could be a valuable asset in that area of the field for the Colts.
YAC AbilityFor a pretty massive player, Butler has some ability after the catch. He rarely settles for what is given to him and makes a ton of plays in the open field. He does it in a multitude of ways,from stiff-arming players to quick jukes, to simply outrunning players. He may have a tight endís body, but he is an exceptional athlete who can (and does!) make plays after the catch.The first way he creates after the catch is just his pure speed. I already mentioned his insane 4.48 speed (for a 227 pound receiver!), but that ability shows on film as well. Here, he takes a quick post for a big touchdown with his speed. He makes one man miss and then is able to pull away from the rest of the defense with great acceleration and speed.This last clip shows shows all the YAC ability that he offers. Butler catches the ball over the middle and then absorbs the big hit by the safety. He puts a nasty stiff-arm on him and keeps his feet moving downfield after that. He doesnít stop there either as he sheds two more tackles en route to a huge touchdown. Butler is nearly impossible to tackle in the open field by smaller defensive backs.
WeaknessesButler does have some notable weaknesses that could keep him out of the first round. The biggest issue is his drops, as he double-catches a lot of balls and is inconsistent in traffic. His route running is also a concern, he occasionally struggles to separate with crisp routes. Most of his separation comes from his physicality and speed, which doesnít translate as well as crisp routes do. Finally, the level of competition has to be a concern as well. The defenses in the Big 12 are pretty terrible year in and year out.The drops is certainly an area he has to improve, going to the NFL. He is too inconsistent with his technique and he double-catches a lot of passes. In traffic he either will make an outstanding catch or a costly drop. He must clean up this area of his game going to the NFL.Butler is not the most nuanced route runner at all. He can overpower cornerbacks and win off of the line of scrimmage. Where he struggles is separating down the field. He can win on some double moves and head fakes against Big 12 corners, but in the NFL you have to win with nuanced route running. Butler just isnít there yet and needs to develop in that area of his game.
ConclusionHakeem Butler is an extraordinary talent and could be a great fit for the Colts in this draft. He offers a rare blend of length, ball skills, athleticism, and YAC ability that could make him a superstar in the NFL. The highlight plays are outstanding and if he can put it together at the next level, watch out.There are some inconsistencies in his game, though, that cause some concern. Butlerís drops and his lack of nuance in his routes are flaws and could lead to him busting in the league. The primary reason why I think the Colts would still have interest is that those weaknesses donít seem to scare Ballard off of receivers. As I pointed out in my Build-A-Ballard series, Ballard seems to like high-upside players who have inconsistencies.Chris Ballard is a smart GM and trusts his coaching staff and their ability to develop players. Look at Devin Funchess for instance: heís another big, athletic receiver with some inconsistencies in his game. Ballard trusts his coaching staff to figure out how to mitigate the flaws and turn Funchess into the player that he always had the potential to be.Ballard tends to bet on upside with receivers and that is exactly what Hakeem Butler is. I think he is a very real possibility for one of the Coltsí early picks, and would add an intriguing new dimension to the team. Imagine the Colts running 11 personnel with T.Y Hilton and Hakeem Butler on the outside with Devin Funchess in the slot and Eric Ebron at tight end. Who do you cover in that scenario? Endless possibilities with that group of players.

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Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:40 am