AMES — Iowa State hasn’t had a player selected in the NFL Draft since 2014, when linebacker Jeremiah George went in the fifth round.
Receiver Allen Lazard was thought to be the one to break the streak last season, but he also went undrafted.
But this is the year.
Receiver Hakeem Butler is projected to be a first, second or, at worst, third-round pick and running back David Montgomery is expected to be a day-two pick.
“I didn’t know about that draft dry spell, but Twitter has taught me a lot,” Butler said. “It’s kind of crazy. It should’ve ended last year with Allen. I’m still baffled by that. But to end the streak, it’d be amazing.”
Butler turned heads at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis with his enormous frame at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. He also ran a 4.48 40-yard-dash.
“I heard a lot of different things about my speed before the combine with people saying I was slow, and I wasn’t explosive and things like that — stuff that came out of left field from my perspective,” Butler said. “At the combine, I ran what I wanted to run.
Tuesday at Iowa State’s pro day, Butler wanted to show what kind of route runner he is when he’s familiar with the quarterback throwing him the ball. Iowa State teammate Kyle Kempt was the QB throwing to Butler. At the combine, quarterbacks rotated, and receivers never got a real feel for who was throwing them the ball.
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“I was more comfortable (here),” Butler said. “I’ve known Kyle. I didn’t know any of those quarterbacks at the combine. I wanted to show I can run routes when I’m on the same page and comfortable with the quarterback that I know. I think I did that.”
Butler’s combination of size and speed is rare, and his game film and production speak for themselves. Butler recorded the best individual season of any receiver in Iowa State history with 1,318 yards on 110 receptions and nine touchdowns.
Who does Butler feel is the best receiver in the draft?
“Hakeem Butler. He went to Iowa State and he wore No. 18,” Butler said. “I just know myself. I know I have something different inside of me and I feel like I’ve shown that over a lot of Saturdays on the field making play after play. You guys have seen it. I make a lot of plays and that’s what you want from a football player. I feel like I make more plays than a lot of other receivers out there.”
Montgomery also attended the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.63 in the 40-yard-dash, which was slower than he wanted. He learned from that experience and ran a 4.57 at Iowa State’s pro day.
“What I learned most from the combine is you just have to have fun with it and enjoy the experience,” Montgomery said. “A lot of people don’t get second chances and a lot of people don’t get this experience in the first place. I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity I had at the combine and at pro day. It was definitely fun going through this a second time.”
Both Montgomery and Butler have lost count of how many teams they’ve been in contact with but at pro day, Butler spent a lot of time one-on-one with the Arizona Cardinals and Montgomery spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We talked about a little something,” Butler said with a smile in regard to his one-on-one time he spent with the Cardinals in Ames. “And he gave me a few pointers about being a better receiver.”
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