Runs very well for his size and is very difficult to get behind. Looks comfortable when asked to play on an island, does a nice job getting his head around, locating the football and going up in jump ball situations. Is a gifted leaper who maximizes his length with good timing and balance, and is tough to complete passes on in fade situations. Is also very effective in zone. Showcases good footwork and balance when asked to click and close on passes underneath. Is a willing tackler who will stick his head in, wraps well on the play and also does a nice job tackling after the catch, showcasing good initial burst out of his breaks.
However, isn’t quite as impressive in off man when asked to sit into his drop and cleanly get out of his breaks. Possesses natural athleticism, but will allow his pad level to rise and footwork to get too narrow causing him to overextend in order to get out of his breaks. Is a step slower getting after the football or when asked to turn and run and has a tendency to allow receivers to get behind him much more easily. Also, can be overwhelmed in the run game by bigger, more physical receivers, possesses a thin build and can be knocked backward and off the football.
Impression: A tall, lanky corner with good ball skills, fluidity and closing speed underneath. Needs to tighten up his drop and footwork in off coverage, but is the kind of guy who can come in and play early in his NFL career and mature into a very solid NFL starter in either a predominantly press man or zone scheme."
After playing on special teams (two tackles) while buried behind future second-round pick Sean Smith and others on the depth chart as redshirt freshman in 2008, Burton has been a very good starter the past two years. He broke up 10 passes and intercepted one other in 2009, making 47 tackles, including four for loss. Burton picked off two passes and deflected eight more in his second-team All-Mountain West junior year, making 51 tackles and blocking two kicks -- including a game-saving blocked field goal against rival BYU.
Burton's speed, quick feet and length are appreciated by NFL scouts, though they realize he will need to work with coaches on his footwork, hands for the interception and open-field tackling. Given the importance of the cornerback position, teams may be willing to bet a top 50 pick on his potential.
Read & React: Flies to the ball once recognizing where the it's going, exciting defensive coordinators playing a lot of zone. Tends to react a step late on out-cuts and comebacks when in man due to sloppy footwork. Needs coaching on how to read receivers off the line and anticipate routes.
Man Coverage: Scouts appreciate his quick feet on the edge in man, as he can turn and run with any receiver down the sideline. Good jitterbug backward from the snap to wait for receiver to make his move. Fluid enough to mirror routes. Likes to guess, however, which allows receivers to get inside position after a fake outside. Has the size to handle NFL receivers and is willing to lay his hands on them (officials believe he gets too grabby at times). Knocks away jump balls with above-average height and vertical, but needs more want-to in battling situations even against smaller receivers. Stays too high in his backpedal, limiting his change of direction ability.
Zone Coverage: Looks like a press corner but understands zone concepts and could excel in the right scheme. Comes off initial read to follow underneath route. Had communication issues with safeties at times, allowing plays down the seam. Good hand-eye coordination and closing speed to break up throws, but only adequate hands for the interception. Flashes the ability to knock away passes, but needs to find the ball in the air more regularly.
Closing/Recovery: Owns plenty of closing and recovery speed to earn playing time at the next level. Flies to shallow routes, even if in man coverage on another receiver. Recovers quickly enough to trail effectively over the middle or catch up to receivers downfield if beaten off the line. Wastes his speed at times by taking false steps transitioning forward from his pedal.
Run Support: Knows his assignments when attacking runs or quick screens. Forces plays inside, and can shed blocks to get to the ball. Should be more effective in this area given his size and strength. Does try to use his hands to defeat blocks, but is too easily held off plays by receivers giving up significant size. Does not feel lineman coming into his area, gets put on the ground.
Tackling: Usually uses his size, arm span and strength to bring down receivers immediately after the catch. Stops his feet after contact at times when tackling in the open field, allowing ballcarriers to run through his attempt. Resorts to cut tackles when unnecessary but is generally effective at taking out the legs of the ballcarrier. Does not defeat cut blocks with his hands. Gives some effort as a chaser downfield but could do more."
Intangibles: Took a leadership role with several players lost to graduation in 2009. Vocal on the field, letting young teammates know about miscommunications in the secondary and never backing down from an opponent's challenge. Seems to bounce back well after giving up a play.
Burton has started in 25 of Utah’s last 26 matches, and has played in every game since the beginning of the 2008 season.
Burton’s height is ideal for a cornerback at 6’0 tall. He has very good speed, and athleticism. Burton is an above average tackler and isn’t afraid to be physical making a play behind the line of scrimmage. He’s an excellent blitz corner as well. Burton does a good job of flipping his hips and changing direction when running with wide receivers. He is best in man coverage, but is solid in zone as well. He’s a solid press coverage corner who excels in the bump and run.
Burton needs to work on defending against the double move and against physical wide receivers. He doesn’t have very good fight for the football against the taller receivers, and will give up a big play. He also doesn’t do well against receivers running routes in the middle of the field. He will need to improve in zone coverage and not get his eyes caught in the backfield. He could improve his football IQ a bit, and learn to start baiting the QB. He’s not a big time play maker.
Burton is quite talented and has been talked about as a second round corner by many draft analysts. Because of the depth at the position in the 2011 NFL Draft, I don’t see Burton slipping into the second, as the third round seems to be the best fit. Detroit, San Francisco, St. Louis, Miami, Jacksonville, Oakland, and San Diego will all take a heavy look at him in the middle of round three.
NFL Comparison: Eric Wright "
Positive: Solid cornerback prospect who has good upside. Quick-footed moving in reverse, can flip his hips off the line, and displays an explosive burst to the ball out of his plant. Displays a physical nature to his game, mixes it up with receivers throughout the route, and gives effort defending the run. Effectively reads receivers' eyes and gets his head back around to locate the pass in the air. Possesses a nice move to the ball in coverage.
Negative: Inconsistent with his backpedal and does too much side shuffling at times. Does not display a good sense of timing, late reacting to the action and does not track the ball well downfield. Slow transitioning out of his backpedal and does not do a good job positioning himself against opponents to defend passes.
Analysis: Burton has shown a lot of skill the past two seasons but still needs to smooth out the rough edges of his game. He possesses the size and speed to play at the next level and could see action in dime packages as a rookie, preferably in a zone system."
Negatives: Does not have as much experience as some of the other top corners... Technique needs coaching... Needs work on his backpedal... Needs to drop his hips to turn with receivers... Has not been tested often, so he has not gotten the recognition he really deserves... Still very raw, has not faced a high level of competition playing in the Mountain West... Will take a year or two to develop before he can really contribute at cornerback"
2009-Played in 13 games with 12 starts (Utah started four linebackers against Air Force) ... led Utah and tied for second in the league in pass breakups (10) ... tied for fourth in the MWC in passes defended average (0.85) ... 47 tackles with 4.0 TFL and a sack ... four tackles--2.0 for a loss--and a pass breakup in Utah's Poinsettia Bowl victory over California ... had an interception with four tackles against New Mexico ... season-high six tackles against Colorado State and UNLV ... three tackles with a 6-yard sack against Oregon ... two punt returns for seven yards (3.5 average).
2008-Played in 11 games, primarily on special teams ... made two tackles against Weber State ... solo tackle against Wyoming.
2007-Redshirt ... made the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.
HIGH SCHOOL: All-district as a return specialist his sophomore, junior and senior years ... all-district as a cornerback in 2005 and 2006 ... 11 career interceptions ... 10 returns for touchdowns ... Clear Creek High School (Texas) two-time captain and 2005 Defensive Player of the Year ... also lettered in track ... district 200 meter champion (21.3) as a junior ... qualified for the Junior Olympics in the 200 meters.
PERSONAL: Son of Mark and Shawn Burton ... father is an engineer and mother is a doctor ... one sister ... enjoys golf and cooking ... economics major ... born July 31, 1989 in Germany.
Strengths: A fluid athlete with good feet and hips. Despite his stature, he prefers to play press coverage and gets a good jam on receivers. Easily flips his hips out of his back pedal to turn and run with the receiver down the field. Has the speed to close on a receiver's route. Maintains his balance well down the field and has good leaping ability to go up and break up passes.
Weaknesses: Thin defensive back who will need to add strength. Not a corner who likes to mix it up in the running game. Breaks up a lot of passes, but only three interceptions in three seasons.
Projection: Second round if he tests well. He should start as a nickel back and develop into a solid starting corner."
Opposing offenses are avoiding Burton as much as possible in 2010, but he is still putting up some impressive numbers. Through eight games he has 28 tackles, four pass breakups, five passes defended and one interception. What makes Burton so special, and a candidate to leave Utah early for the NFL, is his speed. Burton can run a 4.35 40.
Burton is a fine cover corner who has enough size and a ton of speed. Yet, he can also use that speed to get into the backfield and is a very effective blitzer and run stopper. Burton may not be a first round talent quite yet, but he is oozing with potential and should be a second round selection if he opts to enter the 2011 draft."
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