Photo Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
Josh Padgett, Contributor
Burnett is much more of a sleeper that the other two receivers I have done to date (Equanimeous St. Brown and Deon Cain). He put up great numbers at USC in his junior year. Nothing mind blowing, but 1114 yards and 9 TD’s in his junior year is nothing to scoff at. He has earned the moniker “Big Play Tay.” This, combined with his listed size of 6’0”, 170 lbs, says to me that he possesses burner level speed and or quickness.
Watching him on tape, both of those skills are evident. Burnett remains a sleeper for now. He did not participate in testing at the combine or at his pro day because of a hamstring injury he suffered in January. This is a bit of a bummer because I believe teams will be far more interested in Burnett once they can confirm the quality of athlete that he is. I’m not worried about his small stature, especially if he is a true burner come test time.
The biggest issue I have with Burnett is that he takes plays off. He is a terrible blocker, and though that is generally excusable for his size, you like to see the effort and more often than not, that effort is just not there. Burnett does love the spotlight though. He clearly loves making those big plays that earned him his nickname. Get him involved in a game and he can really get rolling. The best example of this is the Rose Bowl against Penn State in which he amassed 13 receptions for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns. Despite a somewhat limited route tree, he runs clean routes and is flat out dangerous after the catch. He can be an asset at the next level and could learn a lot from guys such as TY Hilton or even Golden Tate. Increasing that route tree is key and using the athleticism to create separation for a lesser quarterback would really make him a valuable commodity in the NFL.
His ceiling could be a low end number one wideout, but his floor is an return specialist. Scary to take him before the third round, but I’m enamored with the upside, so I’m looking for him in the mid to late second. I would rather have a high upside wideout than a high floor tight end like Andrews or Gesicki in most cases anyways.