I just watched a video on Hakeem Butler, wide receiver for Iowa State, and he is both tall, 6-foot-6 inches, and fast. How can a fan like me communicate with John Dorsey or his scouting staff to alert him/them to someone like Butler? It would be a shame if the Browns did not at least look at him as a 2019 draft prospect. -- Ronald T., Cincinnati
Dorsey and the scouts are big, big Browns Mailbag fans, so you’re in good hands.
Butler certainly looks the part, and he couldn’t have imagined a better personal finish to his Iowa State career, catching nine passes for 192 yards in an Alamo Bowl loss to Washington State. He finished his junior season with 60 catches for 1,318 yards -- good for an average of 22 yards per reception -- and nine touchdowns. His yards were nearly double what he combined for in his first two seasons and the nine scores equaled what he’d accumulated in the previous two years. Draft analysts, though, are divided on Butler’s pro prospects. Among wide receivers, he’s ranked as high as third and unranked (most rankings include just 10 players at the position) in others. The Draft Network’s scouting report of Butler, a former two-star recruit, lists his top strength as his contested catch ability and biggest weakness as change of direction skills.
Do you think there still could be a sleeper on the Browns existing roster or practice squad? -- Mark F., Ashtabula
This is a fun one. I’ll give you four to ponder.
RB Dontrell Hilliard - He’s been with the team since May of last year and kept his spot on the active roster after being elevated to it in early October. His opportunities, which included a role as kick returner, were sparse, but he made the most of them. His talent and potential played a part in Kitchens’ inspiration to roll out a package that put all three of the team’s running backs on the field at the same time.
LB Tanner Vallejo - Claimed from the Bills after roster cut down day, Vallejo filled an important role on special teams and thrived when he was called upon after a rash of injuries decimated the line-backing corps. He’s entering his third season and will shoot to have a more expanded role under new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.
WR Derrick Willies - He shined in one of the Browns’ biggest wins of the season, catching a 39-yard pass from Baker Mayfield in the late part of an overtime victory over the Ravens, before his season came to an unfortunate end a few days later. Willies should be healthy and ready to compete when OTAs commence.
DL Chad Thomas - The third-round pick out of Miami was inactive for most of 2018, but Dorsey and Thomas’ teammates have been adamant about his potential. Asked about both second-round offensive lineman Austin Corbett and Thomas, Dorsey said, “I would say it's brighter than you all think it is because I think both of them are very talented individuals who have a chance to help this team moving forward … Because they didn't play a lot their first year doesn't mean they won't contribute. Maybe that's a mark that we're getting a little bit deeper.’’
I Hakeem Butler a lot and his weakness should be fixed with good coaching I would hope. In Browns 24/7 I picked WR, Derrick Willies to be our 'break-out" guy in 2019 season. I also have high expectations in seeing LB Tanner Vallejo in showing up more in our defense.