I've got moxie
Kevin Burnett, OLB, Tennessee
Height: 6:02.5 Weight: 237
Overview: Kevin Burnett considered early entry into the 2004 NFL Draft, but decided to return to Tennessee for his senior season. Coming back from 2002 knee surgery, he felt he needed another year at the collegiate level to prove to the pro scouts that he was fully recovered. Burnett went out and had a banner senior campaign, delivering momentum-changing plays on a regular basis. The two-time Academic All-Southeastern Conference member, who earned his Sports Management undergraduate degree in May 2003, was also named to the AFCA and SEC Good Works teams. Well-respected by his Volunteers staff, assistant head coach John Chavis recently stated, "Burnett is a tremendous talent with big-play capability. He's extremely smart and gives us a great look with his pass rush off the edge." Burnett was a Prep Star All-American free safety at Dominguez (Carson, Ca.) High, where he intercepted seven passes as a senior. He also garnered All-League honors as a running back after rushing for 650 yards and 16 touchdowns on 48 carries. Selected to the "Best of the West" team by the Long Beach Press-Telegram, he led his team to the state playoffs in 1998 and 1999. Burnett immediately earned playing time as a true freshman at Tennessee in 2000, appearing in 11 contests as a free safety early in the year and at weak-side linebacker after midseason. He finished with 11 tackles (10 solo) and a pair of sacks. Burnett started two of 11 games at weak-side linebacker in 2001, posting 52 tackles (33 solo) with 3.5 sacks, 6.5 stops for losses and a forced fumble. He took over the weak-side slot in 2002, but suffered a knee injury in the season opener vs. Wyoming that forced him to miss the rest of the year. He returned to action in 2003, starting the final 12 games. Burnett appeared tentative throughout the season as he continued to recover from 2002 knee problems. While the school credited him with 90 tackles (65 solo), 1.5 sacks, 7.5 stops for losses and eight pressures, upon review of film he was charted as having 63 tackles, including 42 solo. 2004 was a different story, as his team second-best total of 120 tackles (90 solo) are unquestioned and he won AFCA All-American and All-Southeastern Conference first-team honors. However, he only had a career-low one sack, six stops for losses and one pressure. In 49 games as a Volunteer, Burnett had 28 starts. He finished his career with 274 tackles (199 solo) with eight sacks for minus-76 yards, 23 stops for losses of 122 yards, 10 quarterback pressures, three fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, seven pass deflections and an interception. Burnett is a street-smart kid who was raised by his mother. He overcame some bad influences earlier in his life and except for having a fight with a basketball player a few years ago, has been compliant and a good mentor for the younger athletes in the Vols' program. He joined tackle Michael Munoz as the first two-time team captains in school history since J.G. Lowe (1924-25).
Analysis: Positives Burnett is a powerful linebacker who looks good on eye contact, as he has a muscular frame with great speed and strength. He has an explosive burst coming off the edge and while he does show good hand placement, will sometimes try to overpower the offensive linemen, resulting in struggles attempting to shed when working in-line. He is a very confident athlete that loves the challenge. He has made good improvement to play under control, but needs to improve his read and react ability near the line of scrimmage. His reactionary problems arise when he has to play man and zone coverage, as his stiff hips prevent him from getting good acceleration coming out of his backpedal and he is slow to react to the thrown ball. He will also bite on play action. He plays better when working in space, as he can generate a good thud behind his hits when attacking ball carriers in the open. He relies mostly on his speed to cover up his marginal ball reaction skills, but he loses his range when he takes false steps to the ball or eyes the quarterback too long. Burnett stays focused and carries out his assignment in run force. He can adequately hit and shed in on-on-one action when he brings his hands up quickly. Burnett has the speed to run with most tight ends and backs in the short area, but would rather play in space than cover. He takes good angles to the ball in run force and uses his hands effectively to disengage and shed blocks. His short area explosion allows him to be a disruptive force in the backfield. However, he struggles to defeat the reach block on the blitz and while he has the burst to close on the quarterback, he does not do this with consistency (momentum will take him out of the play, as his stiff hips prevent him from generating sharp stop-and-go action). Burnett is not considered a solid pass rusher, as he does not have effective rip and club moves to split double teams, nor does he deliver a fluid swim move to get an edge and slip off blocks. On fakes and play action, a smart quarterback can make Burnett bite. He peaks into the backfield quite a bit and is prone to taking false steps to the ball, as he is slow to read and react in the box (has better reactions when he has a clear lane working off the edge). He is a solid tackler with the range and power to drive the lead blocker back into the hole. Burnett is very effective blitzing off the edge, but seems to generate a better burst when he comes off the snap with his hand on the ground rather than when standing in a normal linebacker's stance. He plays with good urgency, but there are times (especially in pass coverage) where it looks like Burnett shuts down his motor. He lacks ideal knee bend and does not bring his feet when tackling. When he is late to locate the ball, he will revert to playing with a reckless nature and this causes him to have problems breaking down in space. Burnett is more comfortable working in space, as he likes to use his speed to avoid rather than utilize his strength to take on the offensive lineman. His range allows him to make plays outside the box, where he can make crunching tackles on the move. He lacks natural hands and is more apt to deflect a pass rather than intercept it, as he does not have the ball skills to look the pass in and catch away from his frame. Some scouts compare him to the Titans' Keith Bulluck, but Burnett's inability to locate the ball or eye the quarterback in passing situations is enough to convince me that he is not the complete player some would like you to believe. He fits and folds well, appearing to have the ability to play a nine-tech. But he has vision problems working the deep zone and does a poor job of building off of receivers and needs to get better depth in his pass drops. In a draft that is lacking in quality linebackers, some team will overlook his pass coverage deficiencies and draft him much higher than his grade indicates. I like him and feel his speed, power and special teams coverage ability will bring value. I just do not feel he is worthy of a pick in the first two rounds.
Agility tests: 4.63 in the 40-yard dash...440-pound bench press...500-pound squat...300-pound power clean...33-inch vertical jump...32 5/8-inch arm length...9 -inch hands.
High school: Attended Dominquez (Carson, Cal.) High, playing football for coach Keith Donerson. ... Member of the 1999 Prep Star All-America team. ... Second-team All-State selection and named to the "Best of the West" team by the Long Beach Press-Telegram. ... Had seven career interceptions from his free safety position. ... Named first-team All-League as a running back. ... At running back, he had 48 carries for 650 yards and 16 touchdowns during his senior season. ... Led the team to the state playoffs in 1998 and 1999.
Personal: Sports Management major, earning Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll recognition in 2002. ... Born Kevin Bradley Burnett on 12/24/82. ... Resides in Carson, California.