When the Tennessee Titans drafted Arkansas huge receiver Treylon Burks within the first spherical of the 2022 NFL draft — shortly after buying and selling A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles — opinions have been combined. Regardless of operating away from secondaries within the SEC throughout his last 12 months with the Razorbacks, a 4.55-second 40-yard sprint on the Scouting Mix in Indianapolis led some analysts to imagine that he was too gradual to be a real vertical risk on NFL Sundays.
The truth that Burks was operating away from these secondaries, and operating that 40-yard sprint, whereas weighing 255 kilos gave the impression to be ignored in that evaluation, however that could be a dialogue for one more time.
For a lot of, nonetheless, Burks appeared like the perfect Brown alternative. In the course of the draft course of, Brown was a typical participant comparability for the Arkansas receiver.
His NFL profession, nonetheless, bought off to a slower begin than Titans followers have been hoping for. Burks, who suffers from bronchial asthma, handled “respiratory associated points” through the crew’s rookie minicamp. However he was prepared for the beginning of coaching camp, having labored on his conditioning, and find out how to deal with his bronchial asthma, over the summer season.
However then he suffered a wrist harm through the Titans’ first preseason sport, which brought about him to overlook time throughout coaching camp. He returned as camp wound down, and was within the lineup in Week 1, however solely noticed 16 targets over his first 4 NFL video games.
Burks returned to the Titans final week, in Tennessee’s 17-10 win over the Denver Broncos. However the efficiency Titans followers — and maybe these analysts that predicted NFL success for him — have been ready to see got here on Thursday night time. In opposition to the Inexperienced Bay Packers, Burks hauled in a career-best 7 passes for 111 yards.
But it surely was what he did on two performs specifically that speaks to the sort of game-breaking risk he will be within the NFL.
The primary massive play got here on Tennessee’s opening drive of the sport. With the Titans going through a third and seven on their very own 20-yard line, they have been in peril of opening the competition with a three-and-out.
Burks aligns as the center receiver within the journeys formation to the left, and runs a deep put up route. The defender protecting him performs with inside leverage, so the rookie does a very good job of getting excessive of the defensive again. However as he’s working throughout the sector, Tannehill’s throw is to his upfield shoulder, forcing Burks to regulate vertically.
Which he does to perfection:
Not solely does Burks alter his path completely, however he is ready to monitor this throw over his shoulder, whereas cornerback Keisean Nixon tries in useless to rake his arms and knock the ball away.
The large acquire units the Titans up in Packers’ territory, and they might end the drive with a landing to take an early 7-0 lead on the street.
Nonetheless, the play which may illustrate finest Burks’ skill to emphasize defenses within the vertical passing sport got here within the second half. With the Titans going through a 1st and 10 with simply over two minutes remaining, and holding a ten-point lead, they went for the knockout punch.
Utilizing a jumbo “13” personnel package deal, with two tight ends within the sport together with an additional sort out, Le’Raven Clark, aligned as a good finish, the Titans used play-action to place the ball within the air. Burks, the one huge receiver within the sport, runs a go route in opposition to Jaire Alexander.
Watch as Burks erases the presnap cushion, and works proper previous Alexander for the massive acquire:
The rookie’s mixture of measurement, pace, and energy stands out on this play. First, he has the straight-line pace to erase Alexander’s cushion. However as soon as he works previous the cornerback, Burks makes use of his body — and his energy — to stack the defender and defend him away from the soccer.
He finishes the play by making the reception, and dragging Alexander for about ten extra yards to set the Titans up with first-and-goal.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill would run out the clock with three-straight kneel downs.
These two performs spotlight simply how harmful Burks will be within the vertical passing sport. His mixture of measurement, pace, and energy makes him a risk on downfield throws. For an offense like Tennessee’s, constructed round Derrick Henry, the play-action passing sport, and explosive shot performs downfield off of play-action, Burks appeared like the perfect match popping out of Arkansas.
His efficiency in opposition to the Packers makes that appear much more doubtless.