Michigan tight end Jake Butt's rehabilitation from a torn ACL is going well enough that the NFL club that drafts him might not have to wait long to see him on the practice field.
Butt told NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock that he's ahead of schedule, and that he could be ready to play by mid-July. That happens to coincide with the opening of training camps around the NFL, so in the ideal scenario, Butt's preparation for his rookie season might get the full benefit of the preseason. But the ideal scenario isn't yet a reality.
"I'm not rushing anything, but I am ahead of schedule," Butt said Friday at Michigan's pro day workout. "I'm doing everything the trainers are asking me to do. I'm right on track. Timetable-wise, it could be as early as mid-July. That would be six months, but it could be as late as October 10th, which would put me at nine months, could be anywhere between then."
Butt (6-foot-5, 246 pounds) is one of the best tight ends in the draft, despite what is considered to be a very strong field of talent at the position. Mayock ranks him as the No. 4 tight end in the draft. NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes the injury could cost Butt to slide in the draft, but sees him as worthy of a second-round pick even if he's unable to play when the 2017 season begins.
Butt injured his knee in the final game of his senior year at UM in the Orange Bowl, a 33-32 loss to Florida State. He caught 46 passes for 546 yards and four touchdowns in 2016 and won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end.