NAME: Ben Burr-Kirven
JERSEY: No. 25
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 222 lbs
Key & Diagnose – Not especially quick to the trigger, but plays forward on the ball of his feet can burst last to beat blockers to spots. Would like to see processing happen more quickly, as he’s quick enough to fire into and through gaps to play more at or behind the line of scrimmage. Makes a lot of stops several yards downfield in a cleanup capacity.
Range – Short, choppy strides don’t cover a ton of ground, but he can erupt in a hurry and will run his tail off every snap. Gets to top speed quickly, but doesn’t have another gear. Typically takes good angles to the sideline, but often has to limit how aggressive his approach can be as he doesn’t have the speed to take harder angles and finish.
Tackling/Finishing – Physical and aggressive in his tackling, but the laws of physics remain undefeated. Gets a strong number of ball carriers on the ground 1v1, but limited tackle radius and slight frame hurt him against bigger opponents. Hitting power is minimal. Can struggle to go outside his frame and drag runners down. Targets the ball as a tackler and has forced six fumbles over the past two seasons as a result.
Coverage – Good feel for routes developing around him in zone coverage. Keeps his feet active and tracks quarterback’s eyes to take him to the proper position. Doesn’t have the fluidity to close quickly on and underneath throw when originally moved off his spot. Can’t be a mismatch eliminator in man coverage in the slot due to average physical/athletic tools.
Block Deconstruction – Does a good job slipping under blocks and not getting caught up in the wash. Can trigger by blocks at the last second before his opponents can react. Tough and physical, will challenge offensive linemen 1v1, although he doesn’t win often. There are still too many examples of him being naturally knocked back by more powerful opponents to feel great about his NFL projection around the box.
Change of Direction – Doesn’t happen smoothly. From a standstill, he can trigger in any direction quickly, but when asked to alter direction has to gear down considerably to re-direct. Can be eluded in space as a result, or be forced to go outside his frame as a tackler in a diving effort, which eliminates his power and minimizes his finishing ability.
Competitive Toughness – Despite being undersized, brings the fight on every single snap and will scrap with offensive linemen to the death. Chases every single play until the echo of the whistle. Always willing to get in on the action as a tackler.
Pass Rush – Capable of achieving some level of production through sheer will and violence, but not particularly naturally gifted in this area. No pass rush moves and lacks the size to make as big an impact with his physicality as he wants to, but running backs better be ready to put their face in the fan.
Discipline – Rarely in the wrong place, just not often in the right place quick enough to make high impact plays. Clearly a smart linebacker who understands his job on any given play, but there are times where he doesn’t trust or process things quick enough to fulfill his responsibility.
Athleticism/Size – Significantly undersized for a linebacker. Not sure he’ll hit 6-foot. Positional switch might be required just because of his size. Will need to test extremely well in Indy, can’t afford to be small and a bad athlete. He’s a solid athlete, but I don’t think he’ll blow away the testing.
BEST TRAIT – Competitive Toughness
WORST TRAIT – Athleticism/Size
RED FLAGS – None
Ben Burr-Kirven is going to face an uphill battle to get drafted. If he checks in at sub-6-foot, 220 pounds, he’s essentially box safety size which means he’ll need to test closer to a defensive back. I’m not sure I see that happening, but I think coaches will be impressed by his physicality, smarts, feel in zone coverage and willingness to hunt as a tackler. Burr-Kirven screams special teams demon in the NFL, but will his frame and his lack of great instincts hurt his ability to find a role? I’d like to say he finds a way to stick, but the odds are definitely against him.
PROS: A bat outta hell in terms of explosiveness and physicality. Fires into oncoming blockers with great speed-to-power conversion. Uses his hands to win the chest plate and displace players over 100+ lbs heavier than he is. Explosiveness and physicality also allow him to rip through gaps when attack the backfield, which adds to his disruptive ability. Plays excellent reps as the overhang defender against screens and jets, as he can cover distance quickly and typically takes good angles downhill to the football. Does well to key the run first from overhang alignment while still staying connected to the potential passing concept; loves to get an early and aggressive jump on the blocking scheme. Has to be proactive attacking blockers given size constraints.
In pass coverage, has the quickness to run with slot receivers in the intermediate areas and does well to carry them deep with speed. Excels as a short zone defender, especially in hook curl zones. Plays with his eyes in the backfield and understands the defensive structure behind him; always gains depth into necessary space. Will bait quarterback into certain throws that he knows are coming, always doing well to pass off routes when multiple receivers are attacking his area. Gets connected quickly when quarterback looks to his zone and is comfortable playing with receiver on his back. Closes quickly to the football on underneath passes. Pursuit across field is great; loves to run and hit.
CONS: Very undersized for the linebacker position and likely projects best as a box safety or money-backer hybrid in the NFL; his role is limited. Even with the impressive physicality with which he plays LB in college, it’s tough to see the transition going well. That physicality will help him, however, as an overhang defender. Will play a bit out of control on pursuit angles and come to the ball-carrier too hot. He struggles to gear down, and accordingly allows runners to cut in behind him and move upfield. Not a great form tackler who tends to come too high into contact–again, often because he doesn’t have his weight settled under him–but does well to latch on and drag. Not a hitter and doesn’t have a good blitz profile given lack of size–though a move to overhang does mitigate that concern.