BOSTON — Nick Caserio isn’t about to take all the credit for Malcolm Butler.
Caserio spoke Saturday on the “Future of the Front Office” panel at the 2016 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and the New England Patriots director of player personnel offered some pretty interesting insight about how Butler became a member of the Patriots.
While the Pats did do a lot of scouting work on the cornerback and Super Bowl XLIX hero, Caserio said, it was Butler’s own attitude that made him successful.
“In Malcolm’s case, he ran poorly (at Alabama’s pro day), but he was a productive player at West Alabama, even though the level of competition was minimal,” Caserio said. “So we actually brought him in as a rookie minicamp tryout, which means he wasn’t even on the team. There was literally no commitment on our end. But we thought there were some things, one of our scouts had earmarked him, so we brought him in.”
What happened after the Patriots brought Butler in, though, was when the cornerback’s story stopped being about scouting.
“We’re in spring camps, and he continued to show up and make plays on the football,” Caserio said. “I think he had a pass breakup literally every day he practiced, and Tom (Brady) said something like ‘Who is this guy?’ Nobody knew who he was. In that particular case, we had a player who wasn’t well known, didn’t test very well, … but we took a chance, and it’s not about necessarily great scouting, but … it’s about does he have the requisite traits that it takes to be successful in your building. Is he coachable? Does he improve? Does he work hard?”
And for the Patriots, Butler had all of those traits.
“If he does those things and he takes coaching, there’s a chance that he’s going to improve, and to Malcolm’s credit, he really was the fourth corner in 2014,” Caserio said. “Everybody knows about the play in the Super Bowl, and this year he was our best corner and going to the Pro Bowl. So a lot of that is on Malcolm. It’s not necessarily about what we do or scouting or anything like that. All of us have examples exactly like that.”
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images