Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks has suffered through a difficult period as he begins his acclimation to the pro ranks. Burks was unable to finish his first rookie minicamp practice due to alleged conditioning concerns. On the second day of Tennessee’s organized team activities (OTAs), Burks once again exited and returned to practice on multiple occasions.
Head Coach Mike Vrabel has declined an opportunity to get into specifics regarding Burks’ early on-field struggles. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer recently reported that Burks had trouble keeping his weight down throughout the pre-draft process. Burks reportedly labored through some of his pre-draft workouts, which may have been a red flag for certain teams. The Titans obviously didn’t share those concerns. It’s far too early for the Titans to be worried about Burks’ outlook, but the situation is worth closely monitoring throughout training camp and the preseason.
It’s worth noting Burks struggled at the NFL Scouting Combine. The former Arkansas standout ran the 40-yard dash in a disappointing 4.55 seconds. Burks weighed in at 225 pounds in Indianapolis, but Breer reports Burks played in the 240s at points at Arkansas last year.
To say the Titans are counting on big-time contributions from Burks as a first-year player would be an understatement. Titans General Manager Jon Robinson selected Burks with the No. 18 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft after acquiring that pick in a draft-day blockbuster trade with the Eagles that sent A.J. Brown to Philadelphia following a contract dispute. It may be unfair, but Titans fans will forever compare Burks’ career arc to Brown’s as a result.
Burks is expected to immediately step into a starting role on the boundary for the Titans in 2022. Any conditioning-related issues would greatly hamper Burks’ ability to take the field on a snap-by-snap basis.
Robinson has completely revamped Tennessee’s receiver room this offseason. Joining Brown at the exit door is Julio Jones, who the team released as a post-June-1 designation after the Canton-bound receiver struggled with hamstring injuries throughout the entirety of his lone campaign in Tennessee. The Titans also traded for veteran receiver Robert Woods, who is expected to start on the outside opposite Burks. Woods is rehabbing from a torn ACL injury, and although he’s well ahead of schedule, it’s a situation that could potentially place an even heavier early-season workload on Burks’ shoulders.
Throughout the pre-draft process, Burks was viewed as an ideal fit for Tennessee’s offensive system. He ironically garnered comparisons to Brown due to similar abilities as a run-after-catch threat. Burks features a similar build to Brown, is tough to tackle as a physical ball carrier, and is an excellent contested-catch winner. It represents a skill set that meshes well with Tennessee’s play-action passing game and Ryan Tannehill’s preferred approach under center.
The Titans are counting on Burks to produce roughly 800-plus receiving yards in his rookie season and it’s safe to say he’s gotten off to a less-than-desirable start. Vrabel hired Passing Game Coordinator Tim Kelly (Deshaun Watson’s former Offensive Coordinator in Houston) in hopes of diversifying and improving Tennessee’s passing offense in 2022. It marks the first time Vrabel will employ that coaching role on his offensive staff.
Brown’s departure was a considerable blow and all coaches involved are counting on Burks to immediately pick up that slack. July and August qualify as the most important months of the offseason for Burks, who must return to the Titans in better shape than he originally showed up in if he hopes to take up the role he’s expected to fill.
All eyes will continue to be on Treylon Burks with the Titans hitting the field for extended OTAs throughout the course of this week.