Jake Butt was one of the best tight ends on the nation in 2016, but the former Michigan Wolverines star had to wait longer than expected to hear his name called at the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Denver Broncos picked Butt at No. 145, the first selection of the fifth round, on Saturday in Philadelphia. Butt was long projected to go at least a couple of rounds earlier, before suffering a major knee injury in the Orange Bowl.
Despite the injury, Broncos executive John Elway tweeted that he was more than happy to see Butt fall to his club.
We were holding our breath these last few picks hoping to get Michigan TE Jake Butt. A top-notch TE we're fortunate to select in the 5th.
— John Elway (@johnelway) April 29, 2017
Butt became the 10th Michigan player drafted in 2017, which tied Alabama for the most of any team in the first 145 picks.
Butt leaves Michigan as one of the program’s most decorated tight ends. The consensus All-American set school records for tight ends in career catches and career yards, and was an integral part of Michigan’s passing game. Butt was one of three top targets in 2016 for quarterback Wilton Speight, finishing with 546 yards and 4 touchdowns on 46 catches. In his four seasons at Michigan, Butt caught 138 passes for 1,646 yards and 11 touchdowns in 49 games.
However, Butt’s career at Michigan came to a startling end. During Michigan’s loss to Florida State on Dec. 30 in the Orange Bowl, Butt sustained a torn ACL in his right knee which, at first glance, was going to clearly affect his draft stock.
Even though he sustained the injury, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Butt still remained an intriguing prospect, and entered the draft projected as either a second- or a third-round pick by CBSSports.com.
How NFL.com described Butt: “Has NFL size and steps up big in the passing game. Strong hands are like magnets. Can snatch and secure at the catch point. Tough and reliable when working in traffic.”
Because of his fall in the draft, Butt will reportedly cash in a six-figure sum from an insurance policy that covered potential losses from a drop in the draft due to an injury.