You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

2017 NFL Draft: Michigan TE Jake Butt could be value pick for Dolphins

Jake Butt welcomes the doubters. He almost sounds like he appreciates them more than those who actually believe he’ll pull this off.

Coming off his second major knee injury, a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl, he’s striving for a comeback with a little over a month left until the NFL Draft. As he powers through his rehab, he savors everyone who thinks he can’t do it.

“I’ve built my career on people doubting me—came out of high school a skinny kid, not a lot of people expected me to have the career that I had at Michigan,” Butt said. “Now there’s people out here that don’t expect me to ever play in the NFL.

“I save those tweets that I see. I got them screenshotted and stowed away. If I ever get tired, I guarantee I’ll be doing a couple extra reps for those people.”

He was projected as one of the top tight ends in last year’s draft class had he chosen to go pro and unknowingly paid a sizable price by returning to the Wolverines for his senior season. After clawing back from a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee as a sophomore, he’s going through a similar process in the same knee.

Butt underwent surgery in January and wasn’t able to participate in any drills at this month’s NFL Combine. He’s still a month away from being able to run and isn’t expected to be cleared for contact before the end of June. It’s the No. 1 topic team executives have been questioning in pre-draft interviews.

“I’m doing so well; I’m ahead of schedule,” Butt said. “I know where the average man would be at this point in time and I know I’m ahead of that, so I’ve been really excited to show teams that.

While his knee makes him risky for NFL teams, his injury situation also has the potential to create significant value. Butt is thought to have first- or second-round talent, but could be available as late as the fifth. Any organization willing to bet on him in the long term would hit jackpot if he becomes the kind of asset many thought possible a few months ago.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper had him going late in the first round shortly before the injury, and analyst Daniel Jeremiah wrote, “Butt is a natural pass-catcher that understands the nuances of route running and creating space. He catches everything and has the potential to be a dominant red-zone weapon.”

The Dolphins could use a tight end in the draft, though probably not in the early rounds, so Butt could be a good fit. Miami has veteran Julius Thomas, a Pro Bowl selection in 2013 and ’14, lined up as their No. 1 pass-catching tight end going into the season and signed esteemed blocker Anthony Fasano, so that position is fairly settled for this season.

Thomas has two years on his deal, and there’s no guarantee he’ll make it back to where he was before a variety of ailments derailed him in Jacksonville the past two seasons. The only other tight ends on the roster are Thomas Duarte and MarQueis Gray, who have a combined total of 26 career receptions.

Miami almost certainly will take defensive players with its first two picks, Nos. 32 and 54, but could start eying tight ends with its third rounder (97th overall) or in the fifth round, where it has three selections.

Butt emerged as a junior with 654 yards and three touchdowns on 51 catches, and followed that with 546 and four on 46 last season. While he isn’t one of the fastest tight ends in this year’s draft, his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame puts him at roughly the same size as Travis Kelce, for example.

“I think the world of him,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said of Butt last season. “He’s the most gung-ho guy we have on our team when it comes to having joy for football… Guys that love competition and embrace the struggle, then you know you have a true football player. That’s the highest compliment I think you can receive.”


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Miami Dolphins

Andre Branch: D-line scolded for getting too close to Ryan Tannehill
Andre Branch: D-line scolded for getting too close to Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill is not to be touched. (Getty Images) DAVIE—Organized Team Activities are usually pretty low-key for the Dolphins, but apparently their defensive line got a little too hyped in Wednesday’s practice.
2017 Miami Dolphins: DE Andre Branch entrenches himself as leader
2017 Miami Dolphins: DE Andre Branch entrenches himself as leader

There’s a much different feeling for Andre Branch this offseason. He’s no longer trying to prove himself as a worthy member of the Dolphins’ defensive line. Now he’s one of the veterans enforcing the standard. After re-signing on a three-year, $24 million contract this offseason, there’s no question about Branch&rsquo...
Miami Dolphins’ QB Ryan Tannehill (knee) declares himself ‘100 percent’
Miami Dolphins’ QB Ryan Tannehill (knee) declares himself ‘100 percent’

Miami Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill scrambles with the ball as he is pursued by Arizona Cardinals Defensive Tackle Calais Campbell at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.
New Dolphins OG Ted Larsen bonding with Laremy Tunsil, Ja’Wuan James
New Dolphins OG Ted Larsen bonding with Laremy Tunsil, Ja’Wuan James

Ted Larsen (left) could play all three interior positions on the offensive line this year. (Getty Images) DAVIE—Picking up the Dolphins’ offensive scheme is the easy part for new offensive guard Ted Larsen, who played in a similar offense for the Bears last year.
Offseason proves there are no ‘fake gym rats’ on Miami Heat roster
Offseason proves there are no ‘fake gym rats’ on Miami Heat roster

Miami Heat players celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-121 in overtime during an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 10, 2017, in Miami.
More Stories