Seahawks WR Deon Butler (Getty)
Even though he lasted until the third round of the NFL Draft, a lot is expected of Deon Butler. He hails from one of the most storied programs in the country and left as it's most prolific wide receiver, but now he's just a rookie trying to make his way in the NFL. How is he adjusting to the pro game now that OTAs have started? Read on to find out...
"For me personally it’s slowed down a lot," WR Deon Butler told Mike Salk and Brock Huard on KIRO 710 AM on Monday. "I got the hectic part out of the way where you just went full speed right into the team period and now you have the playbook, you’ve got a feel on it, so you just tweak it a little bit and get the little basics down, but you have the overall general concepts down now.
"It’s great to see a lot of the older guys out here at the OTA’s. It just shows their willingness to compete and they want to win and it’s rubbing off on the younger guys."
Butler fell to Seattle in the third round despite a hand-timed 4.26 forty time and career that saw him haul in 179 receptions for 2,771 yards and 22 touchdowns and he said even with his speed and experiencd, the game still came at him a bit fast in the first mini-camp he attended after being drafted.
"In that respect, you want the game to slow down for you as a player," Butler said. "Anyone that plays football knows exactly what I mean. You want it to slow down as a player, but you’re still moving the same speed and everyone is pretty much faster out here in regards to speed.
"When the game starts to slow down for you that’s when you know you’re starting to get it.
"Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot for me to learn, but it’s definitely slowed down a lot since I came out here and didn’t know what to expect in the first camp."
Helping him along the way are players like S Deon Grant and the plethora of veteran receivers already on Seattle's roster as well as QB Matt Hasselbeck.
"(Seattle's roster) is full of high character guys," Butler said. "It’s guys that are willing the help you every step of the way. They’re veteran guys and they don’t have to say anything to me really, but just as an example, (Monday) it was just a run play and I’m just going to shadow block and Deon Grant gives me a tip. Just a veteran safety like that, for him to come up to me and say something like that to help me just shows the character of the guys on this team and that’s just all around.
"It’s not just him it’s all the veteran wideouts who are helping me too. They’re ready to win and willing to win and it shows in their preparation and how they handle themselves."
Butler noted that catching balls from Hasselbeck is something he never expected.
"It’s definitely an experience just coming from a situation where I’ve watched a guy like him in the NFL for so long and been at home watching him and just marveled at what he’s done," Butler noted. "To actually be on the same field with him and catching passes, running routes and learning from him is a great experience and I’m soaking it all in."
Because mini-camps and OTAs are run without pads, Butler knows that just around the corner some of the veterans are ready to give him the proper NFL welcome.
"Once we put on pads guys are going to be licking their chops to really get a good shot on me because right now, without pads, we’re kind of zipping around guys," Butler said. "I think just being able to be smart, find open spots in the zone and continue to do what I’ve done in college as far as avoiding the big hit and be smart like that (will help him) but I’ve got to continue to be tough and I think that that will be one of the big things to overcome – the amount of guys that are looking to get a good shot at me."
Also helping Butler stay tough will be his experience in the Big 10, a conference known more for running backs and tough defenses than flashy playmakers at wide receiver.
"I think people underestimate some of the players in the Big 10," Butler said matter-of-factly. "You have like Malcolm Jenkins, even though he’s not the fastest guy, but he’s a good corner and those are guys that translate well to this level as far as competition goes.
"Guys come in all different shapes, sizes and speeds but that doesn’t dictate how great of a player you are. I think I went against a lot of great players in the Big 10 so I’m able to bring that (experience) here and I think a big bonus of the Big 10 was just the toughness of the league.
"It’s known as a run, grind-it-out, playing in the cold type of a league so I think that’s made me tough and will help me withstand some of this NFL toughness that will get going with the 17-week season."
After he finished up his senior season in Happy Valley, Butler worked out with former Seahawks WR Ricky Proehl and he learned a thing or two from the 16-year veteran.
"It’s probably not going to look like I’m a 4.2 guy out on the field on every route," Butler said. "Just being able to read defenses and be controlled in your route, that’s a big thing that I learned, while training for the combine with Ricky Proehl on my route-running and everything is about getting in and out of your breaks and that’s what the veterans will tell you, getting in and out of your breaks is what makes or breaks you.
"That’s how older guys who are 4.6 guys, and even younger guys like Larry Fitzgerald who isn’t a blazer, that’s why those guys can still make the plays they can make because they are great route-runners."
Adjustment is the key and Butler is making them, one step at a time.