Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker’s rookie season came as a very welcome surprise to most Chiefs fans back in 2017. Replacing an injured Cairo Santos in Week 4, the Georgia Tech product went from the obscurity of the Panthers’ practice squad to converting a game-winning field goal on Monday Night Football in the span of a few days.
Now one of the more consistent and capable kickers in the league, Butker challenges the stereotypes that plague his position.
First on the ballot: Kickers don’t have to watch film like the rest of the team.
“We get a lot of flak as kickers that we don’t kick a ton. There’s only so much kicking you can do before you’re potentially injuring yourself. I look at (film) like, ‘How can I put more work in that’s not physically on the field?’” Butker said. “The more you watch film, it starts happening in your mind, so when you go up to kick, your body is already naturally doing what you’ve been watching on film.”
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub delved into Butker’s impeccable study habits.
“By the time we watch the tape as a group, (Butker)’s watched it three times on his iPad,” Toub said. “He keeps meticulous notes of everything he does, he studies a lot of other kickers, he doesn’t model himself after anybody, but he likes to study guys and see how they prepare as far as day-to-day practice.”
Butker detailed an assortment of the league’s best kickers and how he draws inspiration from them.
“I look at a lot of guys. Everybody has something you can take from. Justin Tucker has some things I like, Graham Gano, (Greg) Zuerlein. I think there’s 32 kickers in the league, so you have to learn from each other and get better. Any way I can get better from looking at other guys, I’m gonna do it,” Butker said. “I look at follow through, what’s his head doing, ball contact. Kickoff, how is he disguising stuff.”
One of Butker’s best resources is veteran punter Dustin Colquitt, now the team’s longest-tenured player with 15 years of NFL experience.
Butker describes the key to a long and productive NFL career as a focus on technical nuances.
“(Colquitt) points out a lot of small things that only a guy with 15 years in the league would notice. That’s how you differentiate yourself. There’s a lot of great guys with a lot of talent that aren’t in the NFL,” Butker said. “How you separate yourself is a lot of the small things that I figured out on my own and stuff I’ve learned from Dustin as well.”
Now a veteran of two playoff runs, Butker no longer feels as though he’s on the cusp of the roster. Back in June, Butker signed a five-year extension worth $20.3 million. As Butker continues to refine his game, Toub assured that it was all money well spent.
“He is an ultimate pro ... He’s hard on himself, he’s only missed one field goal this whole camp and it was a 58-yarder. He missed it, then he came back and made it,” Toub said. “He’s right on track, he’s doing everything we expect him to do. He’s got a very strong leg, and we’re happy that he’s going to be with us for a long time.”