Prospect profile: Donald Butler, ILB, Washington

Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft. Here is a capsule look at prospect Donald Butler.

Our experts see Donald Butler as a consistent playmaker.
Our experts see Donald Butler as a consistent playmaker.

NFL position: ILB
Height: 6-1 1/8
Weight: 245
40 time: 4.72
Current projection: First-round pick
NFL comparison: Jerod Mayo, Patriots

Athletic ability: Is very athletic, which has enabled him to be highly productive. Is very smooth and agile in pass drops; can flip hips to adjust easily and has good burst to the receiver. Flashes athleticism to reach in front of the receiver to break up the pass or cut in front of the receiver to try for an interception. Accelerates to full speed in a flash and has the speed to chase down backs in pursuit. Is naturally flexible, which enables him to bend knees and sink hips to take on lead blockers very strong at the point of attack and make strong, fundamentally sound tackles. Displays very good quickness, agility and burst. Grade: 8.0

Against the inside run: Reads and reacts quickly to the inside run. Fills the hole to take on the blocker strong at the line. Can shed and make tackles in the hole. Is so quick to fill at times that he gets into the backfield before the blocker can get to him; blows up the play in the hole. Lacks ideal height and can be engulfed by linemen at the second level. If a lineman locks up on him, he struggles to get free in time to make plays. Does a good job of reading run, can sift through traffic and has a good burst to the ballcarrier to finish tackles. Grade: 7.5

Against the outside run: Combines ability to read the play quickly, very good speed and explosive closing burst to consistently chase down ballcarriers in backside pursuit. Does a good job of using his hands to keep blockers from getting a hold of him on the move. Has the speed and burst to make tackles on outside runs before the ballcarrier can turn the corner. Does not use his hands well against cut blocks and can be taken to the ground too easily. Grade: 8.0

Blitz/coverage: Combines athleticism and intelligence to be productive in coverage. Is quick, smooth and fluid on pass drops. Reads the QB well, closes very quickly and can get in front of receivers to break up passes. Can flip hips to change directions easily in coverage. Does a good job of covering backs and tight ends in man coverage. Has the athleticism to stay on his man’s hip. Did not do a lot of blitzing in college but shows the ability to beat backs with quick pass-rush moves. Grade: 8.0

Run-pass recognition/instincts: Consistently reads and reacts quickly to plays. Because of great instincts, is able to play significantly faster than his 40 time. Does not get fooled by play-action fakes or misdirection plays. Maintains good position and carries out his responsibility. Grade: 8.0

Pursuit/tackling: Gets started toward the ball quickly and has top-notch acceleration, speed and burst to consistently chase down ballcarriers in backside pursuit. Does a good job of moving through traffic, avoids blocks well and has the speed to track down plays from behind. Needs to improve his hand use to protect his legs from cut blocks. Can be a very good tackler when he keeps his knees bent and remains under control. Breaks down and tackles well even when he tries to make the strong, physical hit. Grade: 8.0

Bottom line: Butler is a tough, instinctive, highly productive defender who is consistently around the ball making plays. Though he lacks ideal height, he is strong at the point of attack in taking on lead blockers. Butler is very consistent and makes plays all over the field. He really shined at the Senior Bowl, where he was clearly the best linebacker. Butler probably won’t be drafted as highly as we have him rated, but in time he will become a very good starting linebacker.

For more than 550 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft. Here is a capsule look at prospect Donald Butler.

Our experts see Donald Butler as a consistent playmaker.
Our experts see Donald Butler as a consistent playmaker.

NFL position: ILB
Height: 6-1 1/8
Weight: 245
40 time: 4.72
Current projection: First-round pick
NFL comparison: Jerod Mayo, Patriots

Athletic ability: Is very athletic, which has enabled him to be highly productive. Is very smooth and agile in pass drops; can flip hips to adjust easily and has good burst to the receiver. Flashes athleticism to reach in front of the receiver to break up the pass or cut in front of the receiver to try for an interception. Accelerates to full speed in a flash and has the speed to chase down backs in pursuit. Is naturally flexible, which enables him to bend knees and sink hips to take on lead blockers very strong at the point of attack and make strong, fundamentally sound tackles. Displays very good quickness, agility and burst. Grade: 8.0

Against the inside run: Reads and reacts quickly to the inside run. Fills the hole to take on the blocker strong at the line. Can shed and make tackles in the hole. Is so quick to fill at times that he gets into the backfield before the blocker can get to him; blows up the play in the hole. Lacks ideal height and can be engulfed by linemen at the second level. If a lineman locks up on him, he struggles to get free in time to make plays. Does a good job of reading run, can sift through traffic and has a good burst to the ballcarrier to finish tackles. Grade: 7.5

Against the outside run: Combines ability to read the play quickly, very good speed and explosive closing burst to consistently chase down ballcarriers in backside pursuit. Does a good job of using his hands to keep blockers from getting a hold of him on the move. Has the speed and burst to make tackles on outside runs before the ballcarrier can turn the corner. Does not use his hands well against cut blocks and can be taken to the ground too easily. Grade: 8.0

Blitz/coverage: Combines athleticism and intelligence to be productive in coverage. Is quick, smooth and fluid on pass drops. Reads the QB well, closes very quickly and can get in front of receivers to break up passes. Can flip hips to change directions easily in coverage. Does a good job of covering backs and tight ends in man coverage. Has the athleticism to stay on his man’s hip. Did not do a lot of blitzing in college but shows the ability to beat backs with quick pass-rush moves. Grade: 8.0

Run-pass recognition/instincts: Consistently reads and reacts quickly to plays. Because of great instincts, is able to play significantly faster than his 40 time. Does not get fooled by play-action fakes or misdirection plays. Maintains good position and carries out his responsibility. Grade: 8.0

Pursuit/tackling: Gets started toward the ball quickly and has top-notch acceleration, speed and burst to consistently chase down ballcarriers in backside pursuit. Does a good job of moving through traffic, avoids blocks well and has the speed to track down plays from behind. Needs to improve his hand use to protect his legs from cut blocks. Can be a very good tackler when he keeps his knees bent and remains under control. Breaks down and tackles well even when he tries to make the strong, physical hit. Grade: 8.0

Bottom line: Butler is a tough, instinctive, highly productive defender who is consistently around the ball making plays. Though he lacks ideal height, he is strong at the point of attack in taking on lead blockers. Butler is very consistent and makes plays all over the field. He really shined at the Senior Bowl, where he was clearly the best linebacker. Butler probably won’t be drafted as highly as we have him rated, but in time he will become a very good starting linebacker.

For more than 550 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

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