Since joining the Colts in the 2012 season, Darius Butler has quietly emerged as one of the top slot cornerbacks in the NFL. He was tremendous in that role in his first few years with the team, though he had a bit of a down year in 2015. The good news for the Colts is that Butler is back to his previous level, as he’s been playing very well this year.
In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Butler has allowed a passer rating of just 63.3 when lined up in the slot this year, the best among NFL cornerbacks.
Butler has been playing well and has played in eight games (starting four), recording 28 tackles, four passes defensed, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Butler has two of the team’s three picks, as the Colts rank tied for last in the league in passes intercepted with three. Butler does most of his work in the slot, where he’s at his best, and this year he’s once again been one of the NFL’s best in that regard as well.
In addition to his work at cornerback, Butler has also played safety a bit this year, starting there for the team’s game against the Packers. He’s done a solid job when asked to do that and so it might be an option moving forward in certain occasions, but his primary role is still as the slot cornerback. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned as much is that the emergence of Rashaan Melvin as the fourth corner has really helped Butler, as Melvin is a guy who is fully capable of playing on the outside. So that means when either Vontae Davis or Patrick Robinson are injured (which seems to be quite often) or when they just need a breather, Melvin can play outside while Butler can stay in the slot. Butler isn’t great on the outside but is very good in the slot, so the Colts have been able to keep him there for the most part this year. So far, it’s paid off quite well.