Clemson's Crezdon Butler: Underrated Corner Headed to 2010 NFL Combine

Chris BurrowsCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2010

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 25: Crezdon Butler #18 of the Clemson Tigers walks on the field during the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Memorial Stadium on November 25, 2006 in Clemson, South Carolina. South Carolina won 31-28. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

There is a proud, strong tradition of cornerbacks at Clemson University. 

Do the names Tye Hill, Justin Miller, and Donnell Woolford ring a bell?

The Tigers graduated two outstanding corners this year.  For some reason, the better of the pair seems to be slipping down NFL draft boards.

Reports of a less-than-stellar season for Crezdon Butler are badly flawed.  It makes you question how talent is really assessed.  There is far more to Butler’s play than a simple stat line will tell you.

In reality, Butler could have gone pro last year and done just fine.  He posted more interceptions and return yardage in 2008 than 2009.  He also delivered a hit in the South Carolina game that must have made NFL scouts salivate.

Butler’s numbers fell off in 2009 because other teams simply refused to throw at him.  In the first five games of the year, there were five balls thrown his way.  Yet he had three passes broken up.  There’s something to be said for consistency.

Just look at the defensive schemes Kevin Steele used last year.  More often than not, the corners were on an island.  Chris Chancellor took the “other guy.”  Marcus Gilchrist covered the slot receiver.  Butler locked up with the one you were scared of.  Most times he won.

The best thing that can ever be said for a defensive back is that he makes a receiver disappear.  The knock on Deion Sanders was that he avoided contact.  So be it.  He was still the best defensive back of our lifetimes.  Remember him—as a 49er—manning up on Michael Irvin in the playoffs?  That worked out well for San Francisco, didn’t it?

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This is not to say that Crezdon Butler will be the next Deion Sanders.  Guys like that don’t show up every year in the draft.  What Butler will be at the next level is a very consistent cover man.  With safety help in some cover-two variation, he can take a top receiver out of the game. 

Expect Butler to impress at the combine.  The minor injuries he suffered towards the end of the year shouldn’t hamper his performance.  Oh yeah, he also runs the 40 in 4.3.  This guy has earned, at the very least, a middle-round selection.  He’ll be a starter in the NFL in two or three years.  Bet on it.


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