Deon Butler's Rookie Role Underestimated in Seattle?

Rob StatonCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

RENTON, WA - MAY 2:  Deon Butler #85 of the Seattle Seahawks runs drills during minicamp at the Seahawks training facility on May 2, 2009 in Renton, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

A few eye brows raised when Seattle made an aggressive trade with Philadelphia to grab Deon Butler.

The price was downplayed by the Seahawks' front office, but it did involve coughing up a valuable third-round pick in 2010 alongside fifth- and seventh-round picks this year.

Clearly the team felt comfortable not only with the bounty they'd picked up for next year (getting Denver's first-rounder) but also the potential Butler has to help the team immediately as a rookie.

Wide receiver is a notoriously difficult position to master in your first year.There are a few exceptions, most notably Eddie Royal and DeSean Jackson, who both had excellent introductions into the NFL.

But there's usually some teething problems, and Butler will be no different as he adjusts to the pro game. But could help the team right away.

Seattle offensive coordinator Greg Knapp offensive coordinator Greg Knapp showed a tendency to go down field a lot while with the Falcons and Raiders. The quarterbacks available may have had some influence—Matt Hasselbeck doesn't own the kind of rocket arm associated with Michael Vick or JaMarcus Russell.

Yet too often in 2008 teams simply didn't fear Seattle's passing game, helping opposition defenses to stack the box, blitz freely, and shut down the running game.

Butler's raw speed (he was clocked at 4.38 at the Combine) will—if anything—help keep the defense honest. His ability to get deep and stretch the field is something the Seahawks didn't have with current starters T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch, and Nate Burleson.

For the passing game to receive greater attention, having that long threat could generate a much more balanced Seattle offense in 2009.

But it's not just the threat of Butler that could cause a surprisingly good rookie season.

Butler explodes in and out of his breaks and shows a real ability to get open. There's a reason he broke Bobby Engram's Penn State receptions record (179 catches). He also racked up 2,771 yards and 22 TDs.

He flashes the ability to make great catches but shows occasional inconsistency—nothing out of the ordinary for a young receiver.

For a relatively small man (5'10"), he's combative in his blocks and shows the desire you want to see from a wideout coming into the league.

You're not going to see a 1,000-yard season from Butler, but his presence will be felt in 2009. His signing was as much of a "win-now" as Seattle's choice of Max Unger in round two. And he'll have a role to play in Seattle's attempt to bounce back in the Jim Mora Jr. era.

It wouldn't surprise me if other more productive players on the Seahawks roster are praising Butler by the end of the year for his overall contribution, even if he'll have to wait until later in his career to follow in the footsteps of former Nittany Lions like Engram.