NFL Draft Prospect: Larry Butler III

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In 2013, I had just started my curiosity in the NFL draft world. I would join in conversations with drafttwitter, provide my two cents, hungrily absorbing information that tells me which NFL draft prospect should be good or which ones are limited.

By 2014, I was that sophomore (literally: sophomoric (adj.) Look up sophomoric at Dictionary.com“characteristic of a sophomore” (regarded as self-assured and opinionated but crude and immature), 1806, from sophomore + -ic.) who’d think I’d accrued enough experience to hold an opinion over the Mel Kipers of the world. Well, reality has a good wake up call method that seems to always make you find yourself face first against the cold hard floor. Yet, I was approached by a small school football player by the name of Larry Butler, who asked me to evaluate his highlight film. I was hesitant at first, but at the same time very flattered. So, I took my time to look at his film and judge it against the NFL LB prospects I’ve evaluated back in 2013 (my most successful call being Jelani Jenkins over Jon Bostic). I was impressed, to say the least. Despite being a highlight of Larry’s training camp video in a VHS quality film, the first thing that stood out to me is the speed at which he played. Here is my first ever write up of Larry back when I wrote for SundaysAreForFootball.com. Since then, I’ve written two more times tracking his 2014 season.

Through the years, I stayed in touch with Larry via Twitter (@_KingButler3), and he is an absolute joy to talk to and a respectful young man. He even made several appearances on podcasts to give his opinion about the NFL Superbowl takes. This tells me that he spends time watching pros and is able to dissect film. Some players know only how to play on the field, but others, such as Mr. Butler, understands the process and concepts of plays. Another positive trait of Larry is his ability to ask for and take feedback. Even though I haven’t met him personally, just through our interactions, I can sense a hunger to be great and a drive to play in the world’s highest level of football that is the NFL.

As of this writing, Larry’s collegiate football career had just finished. This is what he shared with me as he reflected on the season:

“my thoughts on the season was a rough one but i felt like i performed well despite the amount of adversity i had.i finished the season with 94 tackles, 6.5 tfl’s and 2 int’s . despit missing parts of 4 games. i was selected all GAC 3rd team despite my teams record and injuries…. i head to florida in december to begin my training at TAP in naples florida”

Just looking at the team records, you can kind of conclude what the adversity may be. He was playing through several injuries, his stats were not recorded properly, the team hasn’t had a winning record for some time. Despite these challenges, Larry had nothing but positive things to say about his teammates, the time he spent with the Crimson Storm, and the support staffs. Others who has written about Larry, also echo some of the sentiments I have about this young prospect: leadership, respectfulness, drive, and tenacity.

To illustrate Larry’s teachability compare these two highlight films:

 

The first film, is the also my first impression of Larry. He was all about speed and hard hitting. I wrote about how I was fearful for his teammate’s health with every practice hit that Larry laid on the offensive players. The speed translated well to his game, as I watched his in-game highlights, but I was also worried about his ability to drop back into coverage. This concern was well-founded as I was looking at the times when he was asked to play the pass. Butler plays with such intense, missile-guided-chase-after-football mentality, to destroy the ball carrier. He was initially played as Outside Linebacker/Defensive End. The drawback, of course, is that screen plays or passes over the middle would be the way to beat Larry. After I gave this feedback to Larry, you can clearly see in the second film where he is adjusting well to playing coverage. It’s not by any means perfect, but it’s exponential growth. He has matured on-field, and he is still asking the same old question “What do you think I can grow from, from just watching my film?”

Looking toward the NFL, Larry has a big uphill battle to be considered for the NFL Draft. For one thing, finding your way into the draft as an FCS player is difficult. No sugar coating it. It’s hard even for players who competed in the NCAA FBS level, so the odds are probably 10 times harder. A second factor that I think are outside of his control are his measurables. In the era where height, weight, and speed are the golden standard for scouts (and not necessarily a good standard), Larry will have to show why he still needs to be considered despite his stature.

One aspect that may be in Larry’s favor is his ability to contribute on Special Teams. Versatility is key for players outside of the top 100 draftees. This helps a player even if he goes undrafted, GM’s will take a chance on players like Larry. I believe he only needs a shot to prove that he can hang with the big boys. Butler has faced tough odds throughout his football career. The NFL may be one of his biggest challenges, but it certainly won’t be one where he is not already prepared for.

I will continue to encourage and root for this kid in his journey to playing professional football.

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