Brice Butler, prepare to be Shermanated

March 22nd, 2013 | Written by Kip Earlywine

Pete's USC advantage didn't really show itself last year. It might make a comeback in 2013.

If you are looking for a Richard Sherman or Brandon Browner in this draft, you won’t find one strictly from the corner ranks if sampled from those who appeared at the NFL Scouting Combine.  Browner stands 6’4″, Sherman 6’3″.  The tallest corners at the combine measured exactly 6’2″.  Those players were Tharold Simon and Jonathan Banks, two great players with a pretty fat chance of being 5th rounders.

So why not consider players who might have the potential for a position switch, like Sherman did during his career at Stanford?  Pete was familiar with Sherman from his USC days as he tried to recruit Sherman as a corner, but lost out because Sherman coveted a Stanford education.  Say, who’s another 6’3″ wide receiver with connections to Pete during his days at USC?

The Seahawks could be a possible landing spot for Butler because head coach Pete Carroll knows him well from when he recruited the receiver out of high school as the head coach at USC.

“That whole staff (in Seattle) is almost like my old staff, even down to the strength trainers,” said Butler, who transferred to SDSU for his final year last spring after graduating early from USC. “Coach Carroll knows my worth. He went al lthe way out to Atlanta to recruit me, so I know he has high expectations of me.”

Perhaps Carroll knows something everyone else doesn’t, because the Seahawks’ scout approached Butler on Tuesday with an interesting proposition.

“The Seahawks guy was talking about me playing a little DB, at corner,” Butler said.

The receiver was surprised, but he told Seattle that he wouldn’t be opposed to switching positions if they saw potential in him as a cornerback.

“Because if you’re going to make me change my position, you obviously think I can do it,” said Butler, who hasn’t played defensive back since his senior year of high school, when he was asked to come into a game on defense to cover the opponent’s standout receiver.

“Our guys couldn’t stop him, so they threw me in there for a little bit,” Butler said. “My senior year, I was like a pinch DB. If they really needed it, they put me in.

“But if teams wanted me to do it, I’ll call my dad and have him come train me wherever I’m at.”

After all, his father is former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Bobby Butler.

I think my favorite part of that passage was the tone of eagerness from Butler to rejoin Pete Carroll even if it meant never playing receiver again.  That “can do” attitude will do him a lot of favors.  It probably also helps that Butler clocked the forty at 4.36, a 6.6 in the 3-cone, and a 10’9″ broad jump while 26 NFL teams had representatives in attendance.  That kind of athleticism at 6’3″ could vault him from the ranks of the undrafted all the way into- oh let’s just say- the 5th round.

Once again, tip o’ the cap to Scott for finding this.

32 Responses to “Brice Butler, prepare to be Shermanated”

  1. Michael says:

    Man I love our front office…

  2. Michael says:

    Anyone know what his problem at receiver has been? Sounds like he should be at least a passable receiver on measurables alone, but he had hardly any production at USC or SDSU. What’s the deal?

  3. CFraychineaud says:

    like me a legacy… worked plenty well with Clay Matthews… have his dad help him out, and have him contact Sherman, he may have some suggestions as to how to make the transition since he’s already successfully completed the same move.

    PC/JS can potentially strike again before browner gets older…

  4. Henrique says:

    This is awesome. I will be pulling for this kid to be drafted by us during the third day.

  5. Ross says:

    Wanted to throw out a reminder that Richard Sherman was borderline atrocious in his first year as a CB at Stanford. His second (senior) year, he was pretty good, but still much more of an intriguing prospect than a complete corner. And this was Richard Sherman – an incredibly cerebral, hard-working guy. Not saying that it’s impossible, but even a natural dude like Sherman needed three years to put it all together. Just tempering expectations :)

    • SeaMeat says:

      Also, some guys are better Pro players than college players from the beginning. I believe Sherman is one of those playes, and I hope Butler is too. I have continued to think that the FO are looking at late round DT/DL to switch to OL like Sweezy, so the read converting some college WR’s to possible CB is beyond intriguing. It is awesome! I wonder if there is some tape from the game he played CB in high school. Probably very hard to find if it even exists.

  6. Nolan says:

    I’d be interested in it for sure, guy seems like he is willing he has blood lines and he sounds like a worker. If he is a day 3 guy any way we don’t have to have him produce year 1 any way he could essentially redshirt the year learn the position and next year we could have a hell of a player.

  7. JW says:

    this is awesome. I was literally just this morning looking at guys who could be targets for this kind of project. Thanks for the timely post!

  8. Hawksince77 says:

    Kip,

    What position do you think is more difficult to master in football, WR or DB? Wouldn’t we think that the skill-set required to succeed at DB exceeds the skill-set required for a WR? If that’s the case, how can you take a guy ranked 715 overall (according to CBS) and 96th best WR in the draft and expect the kid to convert successfully to a more difficult position?

    It’s not just about physical attributes or speed. Playing corner requires much more. Sherman switched while in college and played two years at the position before being drafted. This kid’s never been a full-time CB.

    Maybe this is another JR Sweezy. If so, worth one of Seattle’s 7th round picks, tops. In the same class as signing a 6’8″ pro basketball player who hasn’t played TE since high school. Maybe it will work out.

    • Henrique says:

      I think playing WR is tougher. They take longer to adjust to the pro game than corners.

      • Hawksince77 says:

        Maybe I have it wrong. I was under the impression that after QB, CB was the most demanding position in the league. It requires more athleticism and mental ability than any other. It requires superior reaction times, ability to diagnose offensive plays. Snap decisions. Top-notch coordination and movement skills.

        But like I said, perhaps I am mistaken, and WR is the more demanding skilled position.

        • JW says:

          I’ve often heard CB is the second most difficult. But that might not be the best way to look at it. There are often players who want to play offense rather than defense, coaches putting players in the offensive side for whatever reason, etc. So, perhaps you get miscast early. Also, this is just a few cases and probably isn’t representative of the positions as a whole.

          • JW says:

            will modify that- I’ve heard CB is physically most difficult, but not mentally.

            • Hawksince77 says:

              What we should do is ask Sherman. He would know, and I would consider his opinion fairly definitive, as he played both.

            • Chris says:

              Ding ding.

              Being a great corner is an extremely difficult physical feat to pull off and there’s a lot of technique to master, but in terms of the X and O’s though, offensive positions are almost all tougher than defensive ones.

              It’s nice if a defender can master both the offensive and defensive playbooks, but really they just need to learn their own responsibilities. On offense you really need to know your own playbook inside and out and also be able to read the defense almost as well as the quarterback.

        • Charlie says:

          I think pete carrols scheme asks more of their safetys than their corners, making the transition easier, and also pointing to the success we’ve had with guys we’ve developed in house, ie sherman, maxwell, lane all had varying degrees of success, all 5th and 6th rounders

    • Nolan says:

      Well I don’t think Richard Sherman would have been a very highly ranked WR coming out of College, It just might be that he is a Better DB then a WR. I think certian athletes are just better suited for different positions maybe he is a natural corner.

    • WR is tougher. WRs have so much to learn and the position requires more skill.

  9. peter says:

    For what it’s worth, Alfred Williams a talk show host here in Denver, and a good if not great LB/DE in his football career, whom I love to listen to because of his insight that is usually wrapped up in almost contrived folksy charm, thinks across the board all offensive players have a harder time for learning then defensive players. that all defensive positions at their core are read/react…..I can see where DB may be harder as example then SAM, or 3tech, but I’m on the opposite end here that the Skills to be Larry Fitzgerald are greater then the skills to be Richard Sherman……

    As per that example, Fitzgerald in my world view has to have the play, then the route options, moves to fool the DB(s) that cover him, sell the play if it’s some sort of schematic trap, run block a bit down field, oh….and of course realize that his QB is not Kurt Warner and is probably pulling a dumpster fire in his brain while being chased around by clemons or mebane, and has to come back to help his QB out or hustle because his QB in this scenario is the awesomely inaccurate anyone besides the aforementioned Kurt Warner….whereas old Sherm the worm has to do a jam on someone, track the QB’s eyes, and make a good guess as to where the play is going and depending on the coverage work his area or stick to his man with the Great Earl Thomas hopefully covering his butt deep to pick up any trash….

    • Hawksince77 says:

      I think playing WR in the NFL is demonstrably easier than corner. Here’s my argument:

      1 – completion percentages last year ranged from a low of 53.9% (Chad Henne) to a high of 68.6% (Matt Ryan). That means far more passes are actually caught than not, indicating that WRs are generally more successful finding openings against a defense than corners able to shut them down.

      2 – the corner defending against the pass is only one component of a pass play. Sometimes the QB makes a bad throw, for instance. Sometimes the ball gets tipped at the line of scrimmage. In other words, if these things didn’t happen, even more passes would be completed.

      3 – far more passes are caught by WR than intercepted by defenders.

      4 – consider this thought experiment. Line up one-on-one WR/CB, have the WR run a pattern and a QB throw the ball, and see who wins the majority of balls, the WR or CB. Like a recent Doug Baldwin Fresh Files at Stanford.

      Bottom line: everything else being equal, the WR has the advantage over the CB, because it’s tougher to defend than to get open.

      • Dan says:

        A defender has a given responsibility on every play. He may need to change his responsibility on the fly like, say, covering the flat if his man goes deep. But all of that is a mental aspect of the game.

        If you study your playbook and practice with different looks, then your mastering of the cornerback position is already half way done. The physical aspects are either God given (speed and fluidity) or are learned over time (the differences between pressing and zone coverage).

        On the other hand, a WR’s responsibilities are: getting out of breaks quickly, being familiar with all the routes, knowing down and distance (and adjusting your route accordingly), and being able to read the defensive scheme as your route progresses. The last aspect is probably the most difficult to learn, and the most important. There are many read option routes during the course of a game and a lot of “bad” throws are actually bad reads by the receiver. Of course, there are other physical requirements such as “hands” and “hops.” But that stuff isn’t learned over time. The mental aspect (and the shier pressure) of being a WR is a lot harder to master than defensive back IMO.

        Being a former High School WR and DB, I’d definitely say WR is a lot more difficult to learn and I can’t even fathom the extra wrinkles put in by the offensive coordinator and co.

        The amount of knowledge I know of these 2 positions is but a friggen book to their library!! But if history shows us anything, WRs take a lot longer to groom then DBs.

  10. Rock says:

    The best hope for this kid this year is to make the practice squad. I would not use more than a 7th round compensation pick on him. Unlike Sweezy,he is not going to be on the active roster and be given snaps in the regular season. Not with out secondary talent. In a year, maybe he can compete for a spot. That said, I would love for him to make the conversion. Sherman started the process in college. Let us hope he is a fast learner. The most important skill for a CB is recovery speed. The size and 4.3 time is impressive but there is much more involved than that.

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      This is a team that can absorb that. And it’s also a team that is particularly good at getting guys to contribute early. Sweezy was somewhat thrust into the fray early with the injuries to Moffitt and Carpenter. He’s a perfect late 7th round prospect in my mind, as Seattle is a place where those prospects can really flourish.

      • Rock says:

        It is a risk because he has to pass thru waivers to make it to the practice squad. If he shows enough in preseason some other team may pick him up.

        • Miles says:

          Not to mention any team can sign any practice squad player at any time during the regular season. That’s not good for teams but it’s good for the players so I’m in favor of it, in a league where it’s impossible for players to terminate their own contracts. :P

    • Seahawks probably wouldn’t need to PS him, they have comfortable depth at corner in 2013. The CB Seattle picks this year will be paying dividends in 2014 or 2015.

  11. Tanner says:

    Dude you should delete this post. We don’t wanna other teams to catch on and swoop up our guy.

  12. Leonard says:

    Along the same lines, any chance the Hawks take Cooper Taylor from Richmond and turn him into a WIL LB? There are very few LB’s in the draft this year with the speed that Carroll likes. Taylor is 6’4″ 230lbs. and run between a 4.45 and 4.5 second 40. From the little bit of tape I have seen on him he looked like a sure wrap up tackler, did well running through crowds to find the ball, stayed with TE’s and RB’s in coverage and played with a bit of attitude.
    I guess the problem is several teams, probably including Seattle and Jacksonville think he can play Kam’s SS position.

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      He’s getting a lot of attention after his tremendous pro day performance and probably will go earlier than SEA is willing to take him.

  13. I am a Dolphin/Giant fan. However, your brass gets it right time and again. The scout picking up on Brice Butler and then the writer following it up with an atricle right on point. Mr. Butler is a diamond in the rough!! Whether he plays WR or converts to DB this is a guy that should have an 8-10 year NFL career. Smart, fast, willing to learn and above all, a team player. This brings me to my last thought on your team. Pete Carroll simply is one of the very best at reconizing talent and meshing it together on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks since his arrival have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NFL. In short, the writer, Kip, in reading some of his other articles, prior to and since the article on Brice Butler, appears to know more about players than 80% of the scouts. Kudos to your organization!! tali@jupiterlegaladvocates.com