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Top college tight end prospect suffers serious knee injury, impacts Patriots draft strategy

Michigan’s Jake Butt injured his knee in his final college game.

University of Michigan TE Jake Butt was playing in the final college game of his career. He was expected to be a late first round, early second round tight end prospect due to his quality blocking and open field receiving ability.

Then he suffered a serious knee injury.

"Not sure yet, MCL or ACL," Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said about the injury after the game.

An ACL injury could prevent Butt from playing early in his rookie year and could limit his adjustment period as a rookie. A MCL injury would be less damaging.

Butt has been a four-year contributor at Michigan, collected 138 receptions for 1,646 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6’6, 250-pound tight end collected 97 receptions for 1,200 yards and 7 touchdowns over the past two seasons, was named All American and the best tight end in college football in 2016.

For his part, Butt seems to be in good spirits and isn’t second-guessing his decision to play in the Orange Bowl.

Butt might fall into the third round due to this injury, and opens the door for Alabama TE O.J. Howard to be the clear-cut top tight end prospect in the draft.

The Patriots should be interested in drafting a tight end with Rob Gronkowski recovering from a third back surgery, Martellus Bennett entering free agency, and not much other depth on the roster. If Butt is available in the mid-rounds, the Patriots could afford to draft him and allow him to recover because he could be a Jason Witten-type player for years to come.

Butt and Howard were the only complete tight end prospects in the draft, while there are an additional four of five day two prospects that are purely receiving tight ends. Butt should remain firmly on the Patriots radar.

Best of luck to Butt in his recovery.