Let’s take a look at the redraft and dynasty fantasy football impact of the Tennessee Titans’ selection of Treylon Burks.
Team Drafted: Tennessee Titans
Pick Selected: No. 18 overall
2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Outlook
The Titans traded disgruntled wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles for picks 18 and 101. With the 18th pick, the Tennessee Titans replaced Brown with a similar-type player in Treylon Burks.
And it’s an ideal redraft spot for the rookie. There’s no competition for targets outside Robert Woods coming off a torn ACL. And with a similar YAC-ability like Brown, Burks should be able to step on the field on day one and offer immediate fantasy football appeal as a top-30 fantasy option. The Razorbacks’ 8.5 yards after the catch rank 14th among 169 qualifying wide receivers (92nd percentile) over the past two seasons. The run-heavy nature of the offense and limitations of Ryan Tannehill at quarterback will likely hinder Burks’ fantasy ceiling but he’s got a path to opportunities that not many other rookie WRs will see from the get-go as a favorite to be the team’s WR1.
Initial redraft ranking: WR30
2022 NFL Draft Profile
It’s hard not to be impressed by Burks’ analytical profile below. As a big-bodied slot receiver during his career at Arkansas, he posted some eye-popping efficiency numbers. Over his final two collegiate seasons, he ranked inside the top 17 in the below sample of wide receivers in Yards per route run and yards after the catch (YAC) per reception.
|Among FBS wide receivers with 50 or more targets (*Statistics referenced per PFF*):|
|Year||Slot snap rate||Yards per route run (rank)||YAC per reception||Missed tackles forced|
|2019||84.9%||1.83 (154th of 290)||3.9 (224th)||6 (157th)|
|2020||79.9%||3.07 (17th of 146)||7.6 (13th)||9 (40th)|
|2021||67.7%||3.57 (3rd of 251)||9.3 (4th)||15 (29th)|
Scouts regard Burks as a YAC maven, and while his numbers are stellar in that area, this is also a reflection of his usage and role at Arkansas. Burks was utilized on screens (21.5-22.7% of his targets from 2020-2021, per PFF) and heavily as a zone beater. Many of Burks’ routes were schemed or designed short-area layups and play calls where he needed to identify the soft spots in the opposition’s zone defense. This isn’t a knock on Burks’ game, as he showed a good feel for finding opportunistic areas against the coverage. His usage in these short areas of the field superseded the other wide receivers mentioned in the same breath as possible or locked-in first-round picks. Outside of Drake London’s 2021 season, no other player had more than 60% of his targets coming within nine yards of the line of scrimmage, much less in back-to-back seasons.
Target % behind the line of scrimmage (BLOS) and 0-9 yards
This usage pattern is worrisome when projecting his transition to the NFL level. Burks posted 3.12 (26th) and 3.98 (11th) Yards per route run against man coverage (minimum 15 man-coverage targets). Still, these numbers are generous and misleading if we’re attempting to project his skills to a transition as an outside receiver. In the games I watched, even against man coverage, the vast majority of his reps were against corners who were playing off and refusing to press him at the line. On the limited reps I saw where corners get physical with him close to the line of scrimmage, Burks was able to win some of these battles with his footwork to gain separation. Other times, he allowed the corner to get into his body and stick to him like glue. Overall, it was a small sample and a mixed bag as far as outcomes. He could struggle if he’s asked to operate as a boundary receiver early in his career. His release package and route running are limited at this juncture in his career. If he has issues gaining separation in the NFL, his contested catch ability isn’t stout enough to overcome it. Over the last three seasons, he has seen 45 contested targets (per PFF) but only reeled in 48.9% of these looks.
His ability to chew up yards once the ball is in his hands is a byproduct of his build-up and long speed. Burks was defending his 40 time and speed in interviews recently, stating, “Go watch film and see if I’ve been caught with that 40 time.” I don’t disagree with this assertion at all. Once he was in the open field, he left corners in the dust. The concerns regarding his YAC ability in the NFL are accurate if he’s going to be asked to create for himself in confined space or after the reception on boundary routes with his strength. While he ranked 40th and 29th over the last two seasons in missed tackles forced, he isn’t a prodigious tackle-breaking behemoth after the catch. The concerns regarding his burst and play strength show up here. If he had tested like an alien similar to D.K. Metcalf, his missed-tackles numbers would have been even better.
While much of this profile has discussed the current limitations to his game, Burks remains a talented player with some definite strengths. The key will be for an offensive play-caller to place him in advantageous situations early on while expanding his repertoire at the next level. The assumption of rationale coaching can be a slippery slope, but it doesn’t mean you still can’t climb to the top of the mountain by taking this trail.
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