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NFL Draft

Why Lorenzo Burns Can Make Cardinals Roster As UDFA

  • The Draft Network
  • July 26, 2021
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Lorenzo Burns was born in Murrieta, CA. During his prep career, he was a multi-sport standout, earning All-CIF honors in basketball and also track and field. During his track and field career, he captured the CIF title in the triple jump. In football, he played quarterback, wide receiver, and running back while also returning kicks. This earned him a scholarship to the University of Arizona where he continued to thrive as a four-year starter.

In 2016, he played in two games before an injury forced him to redshirt. In 2017, as a redshirt freshman, he led the Pac 12 in interceptions with five—which was also good for second in the nation amongst freshmen. He was named to the College Football News’ First-Team All-Pac-12 list. In 2018, he started all 10 games in which he played. He led the team with 11 pass break-ups, which ranked fourth in the conference. In 2019, he started all 12 games and was named Team Defensive MVP, while leading the team in both interceptions and PBUs. 2020 was a shortened season due to COVID-19, but he was still named Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 as he started all five games. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a UDFA after the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft. 

The NFC West may very well be the most competitive division in the NFL. Just within the division, Arizona will have to play Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, and Jimmy Garoppolo.  As a result, the Cardinals are in desperate need of young, healthy bodies at the cornerback position. 

Currently, their outside corners are expected to be Robert Alford and Malcolm Butler. Both are aging veterans players. Alford signed with Arizona two years ago and has yet to play a single down for them. This past season, he tore his pectoral muscle before they put pads on, effectively ending yet another season for him. Butler signed as a free agent from Tennessee. Both are approximately 5095 and would be considered on the smallish side.

Byron Murphy is slated to start at the nickel position. Although he is 6-foot, he is more comfortable playing inside at nickel rather than outside. The Cardinals also drafted Marco Wilson out of Florida a few months ago. Wilson is considered an uber-talented player who somewhat underachieved at Florida. They also drafted Tay Gowan, who brings size to the position, but he is also a player who can only play outside. 

At 5-foot-11, Burns brings length to an outside cornerback room that desperately needs it. He is an extremely competitive player who thrives when the ball is in the air. As a 40-game starter over four years, he consistently got his hands on the football. He thrives at the catch point with very good ball skills and hand/eye coordination. He’s an instinctive player who shows good flexibility and “feel” in zone. He's a willing tackler in the run game and on the perimeter as well. I believe he is one of the few players on that roster who can have true inside/outside positional flexibility. If you pair that with his projection as a four-phase, core special teams player who can also contribute in the run game, barring injury, I believe Burns has a good chance of making the Cardinals’ Week 1 roster.

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