Seahawks trade up for Penn State wide receiver Deon Butler
Third-round pick has similarities to Bobby Engram, and broke Engram's career school receiving record
Times staff Columnist
RENTON — Deon Butler is too small. A mere 5 feet 10.
He's too skinny. He weighed between 160 and 165 pounds during his four years at Penn State.
He can't play football. Not at this level where size and strength are legal tender.
That's always been the scouting report on Butler, whom the Seahawks traded up to get in Sunday's third round, completing a deal with Philadelphia. The Hawks gave up a fifth- and seventh-round pick and a 2010 third-round pick.
Butler was a walk-on at Penn State who ran away from defensive backs. He was a little guy who became the go-to guy. He broke Bobby Engram's career school record for receptions with 179, was second all time with 2,771 receiving yards and third with 22 touchdown catches.
He's never bought into the scouting reports. He ignored the chatter. He forgave the critics.
"I think the majority of the time, it [criticism] was about my size," Butler said by telephone early Sunday morning. "That is pretty much what I have been hearing going into college and now it is restarting going into the NFL. In this draft process. It was my size."
Think of Butler as the Hawks' new Engram. A much faster Engram. Like Engram, he has the same build, the same alma mater and the same legion of critics he's had to prove wrong.
He went to the NFL combine and impressed everyone with his speed — running a 4.38 40-yard dash — his toughness and his versatility. The Hawks' scouts were impressed with his route running and compared him with Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal.
"It [the criticism] didn't bother me or affect me too much as far as a mental standpoint because I had already heard it all before," he said. "I'm just glad that Seattle believes in me.
"I'm going to make the pick worth it, because I am ready to play and my size, like I told teams, hasn't really been a problem to me. I am used to being smaller than people my whole life pretty much, playing this game."
A movie buff, it isn't surprising Butler said his favorite recent movie was "Slumdog Millionaire," a story about persistence, about underdogs surviving against daunting odds.
"That is some of the stuff I apply to my football career," Butler said. "Just stay persistent. You're not going to be the one that everybody wants. You're not always going to be the perfect person. There's always going to be negative things that people can say about you. But as long as you are persistent, you will be fine in your end goal."
Butler, who now weighs 181 pounds, said he had been "on pins and needles" waiting for this pick to be announced.
"It's definitely a feeling I haven't had in a while," he said. "As you sit there and the selections are coming in and you are waiting for your phone call. Any phone call, any text message from any friend, you jump and then you say, 'Ah, I know this number, never mind.' You're waiting for that random phone number that you don't know, that area code."
Butler, who graduated with a degree in crime, law, justice and forensic science, met Engram for the first time at this year's Rose Bowl. They've talked several times since.
"I've definitely been picking his brain a little bit," Butler said, "not exactly about the Seahawks, but about the NFL in general. I have a good relationship with him."
Engram told him to call any time.
"I kind of resemble him as a small receiver," Butler said. "He was just telling me the nuances of the game and how to be able to make plays and not let your size affect you. He gave me a lot of confidence being that he has been in the NFL for so long. He said that 'I have seen you play and I know you can do it.' "
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 07:23 AM
NFL, union resume labor talks at mediator's office