NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Back in 2014, Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler didn’t watch the first half of the NFL Draft.
He turned on the television the last day, but he didn’t have high expectations. Not after flying under the radar at Division II West Alabama, and a less-than-stellar pro day performance.
“I was not expecting to get drafted,” Butler said. “I thought there was a chance I could go last round, but I didn’t really expect it.”
After seeing a big wave of undrafted free agents signed by NFL clubs, Butler was still without a job. Then came a phone call from the New England Patriots, inviting him to town for a workout.
It was his shot. Most considered it a long shot.
“It was like 2-3 days after the draft and they brought in 40 guys,” Butler recalled. “And I was one of the two out of 40 to make it.
“I went up there ran my 40 hard, and had a good time. I competed out there in 1-on-1s hard. I did a lot of great things the first day I was there, and that’s what really put me ahead of a lot of guys and got the most attention.”
Butler proved he was worth taking a chance on. The Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent after he earned the respect of coach Bill Belichick and those around him.
“I kept excelling as the weeks went by, and as camp was going on. I was never going to give up, and I wanted to prove myself,” Butler said. “I was making plays on the ball, picking off Tom Brady and picking off (Jimmy) Garoppolo, talking trash and competing on and off the field, in the classroom.
“I just needed an opportunity, and if I got that I wasn’t coming back home.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Butler made the team, and he played in 11 games as a rookie.
In his rookie season, he sealed New England’s 28-24 Super Bowl XLIX win over Seattle in the closing seconds when he intercepted quarterback Russell Wilson’s pass intended for Ricardo Lockette in the end zone. Butler undercut a slant route, picked off the pass and then managed to get to the two-yard line. It was his first career interception.
Butler started 47 of 48 for the Patriots over the past three seasons. He’s recorded eight interceptions in his NFL career. He played 98 percent of the defensive snaps in the regular season in 2017, when he recorded 60 tackles and two interceptions.
Now, he’s ready to help the Titans, who signed him in the first week of free agency.
“It just seems like it all went so fast,” Butler said. “It seems like I was just in New England on a tryout yesterday, and it all goes so fast. I’ve worked so hard for this. It’s been a long journey, but anything that is worth having doesn’t come easy. You are going to have ups and downs.”
In Tennessee, the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder will join veteran cornerback Logan Ryan, his former teammate in New England, and promising second-year cornerback Adoree’ Jackson in a secondary that also includes Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard and veteran safety Johnathan Cyprien.
Butler said he’s ready to do his part.
“As long as I am here I am expecting to show what I am getting paid,” Butler said. “I am going to being everything I’ve got. I have that undrafted mentality. I’m real aggressive, and I can’t wait to get out there. I’m just ready to play ball.”
TitansOnline.com looks at the NFL career of former New England Patriots CB Malcolm Butler. (AP Photos)