ARLINGTON- Southern California Receiver Deontay Burnett is one of the best route runners in this draft. He is really quick on his feet and has big play potential written all over him. He is certainly a chain mover that can find his way into the end zone from 50 yards out on some plays because he is elusive.
Despite his potential to average 15 or more yards per play, there is one major concern about him. Burnett has an extremely thin body frame and will be difficult for him to bulk up. The last thing an offensive coordinator wants is for Burnett to be on the wrong side of a big hit from a linebacker. He will depend on avoiding, or at least eluding NFL defenders. Burnett caught 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged 13 yards per play in 2017. His 42 yard reception was his longest last season.
Burnett will never beat defenders by being physical. His small frame will not give him an advantage in one on one matchups against corner backs and safeties. He may not be able to snag passes by jumping for 50/50 passes because he would vulnerable to too many big hits.
Despite his small frame, Burnett shows surprising toughness at times. Will he continue to show that same grit against bigger defenders? This is a huge concern for any team looking to draft him. Will Burnett show the same level of concentration when he hears footsteps?
Teams typically look for more polished receivers in rounds one and two. Receivers that can beat defenders with physical play or by beating them deep are typically drafted early. Due to Burnett’s light frame, he is at best a late third round projection though most scouting reports peg him as a fourth or fifth rounder.
If Burnett can manage to add ten pounds or more, he will have an easier time handling contact. However, being six feet tall and 170 pounds is not favorable size in the NFL. His big play potential should not be overlooked though.