ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos hoped for the best Saturday, nervously waited for their chance and then happily selected Michigan tight end Jake Butt with the first pick of the fifth round -- 145th overall.
Butt likely would have carried a first-round grade had he not suffered a torn right ACL in the Wolverines’ bowl game in January. Butt tore the same ACL in 2014.
As a result, Butt waited into the draft’s third day to hear his name called. Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway took to Twitter to say, “We were holding our breath these last few picks hoping to get Michigan tight end Jake Butt. A top-notch TE we’re fortunate to select in the fifth round."
Butt, who was the eighth tight end taken in the draft, finished with 51 catches in 2015 and 46 in 2016.
“Being competitive, you’re competing against the other tight ends in the draft," Butt said. “So I understand the nature of the business here ... but it couldn’t have worked out better."
Butt also called it “one of the best moments of my life to this date."
Butt, the Mackey Award winner this past season as the nation’s best tight end, is considered by talent evaluators to be one of the best receiver/blocker combinations available at the position if he recovers fully from the injury. Butt said Saturday he could be ready to play by the time the regular season opens.
“I’m right on schedule," Butt said. “And the plan right now is to be ready for the beginning of the season. I don’t see why that’s not possible. ... That is ambitious ... that’s what helps me unlock my full potential."
Darren Rovell reported Butt had taken out a $2 million loss-of-value policy before this past season began and that he started collecting insurance on when he wasn't picked in the top half of the third round Friday night. Rovell reported Butt first started collecting, at $10,000 a pick tax-free, in the middle of the third round.
By also being passed over in the fourth round as well, Butt was set to receive $543,000 on the policy. Butt had taken out a $2 million total disability policy with that $2 million loss-of-value policy attached before the start of the 2016 season.
Asked about the insurance policy Saturday, Butt said: “There’s a lot more going into that than what’s being tweeted out today. ... There’s so much more that will go into it than I understand right now."
Butt reaffirmed Saturday he doesn't regret playing in the Orange Bowl in January despite the fact LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey each sat out thier team’s bowl game and were each selected among the draft’s top eight picks.
“I’ll never regret playing in a football game," Butt said. " ... I play football because it’s what I love to do. It never crossed my mind to sit out the game."