49ers LB Patrick Willis wins The Butkus Award: How great will he be?

I didn't know this until yesterday, but apparently Dick Butkus has an award called The Butkus Award. Prior to the 2008 season, this was strictly a college award. The award apparently honors "athletics achievement and service to the community." The award has gone to college linebackers since 1985 (Brian Bosworth won the first two).  Beginning in 2008 they started giving the award to a high school linebacker and an NFL linebacker as well.  The 2008 winner was DeMarcus Ware.

This year, our very own Patrick Willis took home the award receiving 12 first place votes and 50 total points.  We have a list of voters after the jump, but I don't really know how the points are broken down. The panel includes scouts, coaches, and journalists. I don't think the victory was unanimous or overwhelming, but a win is a win. DeMarcus Ware finished 2nd with 6 first place votes and 39 total points. Bamm Bamm also won the college version of the award in 2006.  Rolando McClain won the college version this year.

Willis is clearly an awesome linebacker. If he's not the best inside linebacker in the NFL, he's pretty close. We've gone down the stats ad nauseum so there is nothing new on that front. He's an athletics and statistical freak.

However, I thought it'd be fun to ponder just where his career is headed. At his current pace, Bamm Bamm is going to be a Hall-of-Famer. The question becomes how high up the summit will he go?  In 2019, nine years away, the NFL will likely be releasing their 100th anniversary team (the 75th team was announced in 1994).  At that point, Willis will have been in the NFL 12. If he stays healthy, will we be a 12-time Pro Bowler?  An 8-10 time All Pro?  Throw in some gaudy stats and I know most 49ers fans would vote for him.

In briefly looking at Wikipedia's list of the 75th anniversary team, the linebackers are Dick Butkus, Jack Ham, Ted Hendricks, Jack Lambert, Willie Lanier, Ray Nitschke, and Lawrence Taylor.  There have been some great linebackers since 1994, so the competition will be stiff.  Will we see Bamm Bamm on the list at the end of the decade?

Jerry Angelo General Manager Chicago Bears
Hub Arkush Publisher/editor Pro Football Weekly
Trent Baalke Director of Player Personnel San Francisco 49ers
Pete Carroll Head coach USC
Charley Casserly NFL insider CBS
Tom Ciskowski Director of College and Pro Scouting Dallas Cowboys
Joey Clinkscales Vice President, College Scouting New York Jets
Bobby DePaul Senior director of pro personnel Chicago Bears
Billy Devaney Executive VP Player Personnel St. Louis Rams
Tom Dienhart Senior Writer Rivals
Tom Dimitroff General Manager Atlanta Falcons
John Dorsey Director of College Scouting Green Bay Packers
Kirk Ferentz Head coach University of Iowa
Pete Fiutak Publisher/editor College Football News
Pat Fitzgerald Head coach Northwestern University
Leslie Frazier Defensive Coordinator Minnesota Vikings
Mike Giddings President Pro Scout
Don Gregory Director of College Scouting Carolina Panthers
Ryan Grigson Director of College Scouting Philadelphia Eagles
John Harbaugh Head coach Baltimore Ravens
Kirk Herbstreit College football analyst ESPN
Tom Lemming Publisher Prep Football Report
Greg Manusky Defensive Coordinator San Francisco 49ers
Martin Mayhew General Manager Detroit Lions
Mike Mayock Draft analyst NFL Network
T.J. McCreight Director of Player Personnel Arizona Cardinals
Tom Modrak Vice President of College Scouting Buffalo Bills
Nolan Nawrocki Senior editor Pro Football Weekly
Scott Pioli General Manager
Kansas City Chiefs
Ron Rivera Linebackers Coach San Diego Chargers
Rich Rodriguez Head Coach
University of Michigan
Marc Ross Director of College Scouting New York Giants
Matt Russell Director of Scouting / Former Butkus Winner Denver Broncos
Rob Ryan Defensive Coordinator Cleveland Browns
Nick Saban Head Coach University of Alabama
Randy Shannon Head Coach University of Miami
Mike Singletary Head Coach San Francisco 49ers
Rick Smith General Manager Houston Texans
Gene Smith General Manager
Jacksonville Jaguars
A.J. Smith General Manager San Diego Chargers
Steve Spanguolo Head Coach
St. Louis Rams
Scott Studwell Director of College Scouting Minnesota Vikings
Tom Telesco Director of Player Personnel Indianapolis Colts
Duke Tobin Director of player personnel Cincinnati Bengals
Lional Vital Asst. Director of Player Personnel Atlanta Falcons
Dave Wannstedt Head Coach University of Pittsburgh
Ruston Webster Vice President of Player Personnel Seattle Seahawks
Brian Xanders General Manager Denver Broncos
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