Round | Team | Pos. | School | Name
LB (6-2, 239, 4.57)
Has terrific upside. Is big, strong, athletic, fast and tough. Is a terrific leader and a hard worker. Takes good angles to the ball carrier in the running game. Shows the ability to use his hands and to shed blocks in space. He gets through traffic well and shows burst when closing in on the ball carrier. He has excellent top-end speed and range versus the run. Is a powerful tackler with good short-area explosiveness. Is a smooth athlete in coverage. Shows the hips, instincts, quickness and speed to match up with most NFL backs man-to-man. Has excellent range in zone coverage. Gets consistent pressure when turned loose as a pass rusher. Shows good initial quickness, instincts and top-end speed when rushing the QB.Durability is still a concern after 2002 knee injury. Recognition skills must improve. Takes too many false steps and reacts late too often, which takes away from his range. Got away with below average read-and-react skills in college because of his speed and athletic ability but he won't get away with it in the NFL. He has great athleticism in the passing game but hasn't always been a big playmaker in that area. Will knock a lot of passes down but doesn't have great ball skills and won't make many interceptions. He also is fast and instinctive as a pass rusher, but seems to lack ideal closing burst. Will get consistent pressure and hurry quarterbacks, but doesn't close quickly enough and fails to complete too many plays in that facet. Will have some trouble coming off of blocks when reached on the blitz. Doesn't have an array of pass rush moves and will get stuck too easily if reached. Burnett came to Tennessee as a free safety, but was moved to linebacker midway through his true freshman season in 2000. He started two games in 2001 and was set to become the Vols' fulltime starting "weakside" linebacker in 2002 before tearing his ACL, which required reconstructive knee surgery and cost him the entire 2002 season and 2003 spring practice. As a junior in 2003, Burnett started all 13 games and finished with 77.5 total tackles, 7.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks. Burnett made a wise decision to return for his senior season in 2004 because it gave him time to fully recover and regain his speed and explosiveness. He finished 2004 with 120 tackles, six TFL, one sack and one INT. Burnett is a terrific athlete with good size and even better speed. He is excellent in coverage, has very good range in run support, and also shows good burst when turned loose as a pass rusher. Burnett does still need to improve his recognition skills and has to cut down on the amount of false steps he takes. However, his size, athletic ability and speed make him an attractive NFL prospect. Burnett likely will contribute as a nickel linebacker and special teams player as a rookie in the NFL while he develops his read-and-react skills. However, he should quickly develop into a starting WLB for the team that drafts him and he could be a steal if he slips far into the second round due to the position he plays, the durability tag that comes with him and the talent that is ahead of him at the position.
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