Don’t let the numbers on a stopwatch fool you—speed kills, surely. However, when it comes to projecting a player’s success at the NFL level, the logic dives much deeper than an athlete’s linear burst.
A three-year impact wideout for the Arkansas Razorbacks, the book on Treylon Burks is lengthy. One of the most versatile (and underused) offensive weapons in the country this fall considering the talent around him at Arkansas, Burks’ performance at the NFL Scouting Combine left the final box unchecked for many talent evaluators in attendance. Often compared to San Francisco 49ers’ do-it-all weapon Deebo Samuel simply due to his non-existent limitations wherever he aligns at the snap, first things first, let’s cool the jets on the comparison—Samuel’s his own individual beast. But with Burks’ draft stock slipping after a ‘substandard’ combine, the vast differences between game speed and 40 speed are apples to oranges inside war rooms.
Long story short, Burks is a Mack truck to take down in open space. Combine his agility in open grass, competitiveness at the catch point, and hunger for paydirt, and you can see why teams have the former Razorback ranked atop the deep class of pass-catching talent. While Tyquan Thornton (Baylor) and Velus Jones (Tennessee) blazed the fastest times in the 40 of all wideouts (both clocking in at, or under 4.31) Burks’ 4.55 – within the public eye – looked “slow” in comparison to others in attendance.
While it wasn’t a freak time to that of Georgia defensive Hercules Jordan Davis, who blew up the combine after running a sub-4.8 at 340-plus pounds, Burks’ burst at 225 pounds saw him produce a ‘SpeedScore’ of 106.4, ranking him in the 87th percentile in its database of weight-adjusted 40 times. Sure, was it hard to follow a talent in Memphis’ Calvin Austin III whose success will depend on his quickness and short-area burst in Indianapolis, heck yeah, especially when the former Tiger runs a 4.32, but identifying the route tree of a professional receiver excavates very little opportunities to run 40 yards untouched. It’s a distant reality.
It looks good in a t-shirt and shorts, but when a 200-pound corner that runs a 4.4 with excellent cover skills aligns in front of you, what then? What happens when the contact window is diminished and refinement as a route-runner comes into play? And, blatantly put, can you win your matchup to keep you on the field, in an NFL uniform, and under contract. Speed matters—I think Tyreek Hill would agree—but rarely have we seen the top 40 time at the combine evolve into a high-impact starter on Sundays—and that, for teams, means something.
For Burks, the slander is undeserving. A day in age where analytics have become more and more popular for teams on both sides of the ball, game speed, and 40 speed, despite what the numbers may say, is drastically different.
After hours of film, and years of proven on-field impact at the highest collegiate level, if a 40 time ultimately sways an opinion on a prospect completely away from said player, it’s time to reassess the evaluation process. An All-American last fall and a bonafide game-changer at the next level, don’t get tricky when it comes to Burks.
- Mar 11, 2022
- Mar 11, 2022