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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Burks has NFL standout written all over him

by Wally Hall | April 27, 2022 at 3:20 a.m.

Time is running out on NFL mock drafts.

On Thursday night, the real NFL Draft begins on ESPN, and there will cheers, tears and jeers from pro football fans from all over the country.

Until then, we have had the mock drafts to discuss, and there is no shortage of them. Most of them were created by media types who love the NFL, know the game and have just as much chance of getting it right as the NFL general managers and owners do.

There will be hits and misses.

Having been an observer and reporter of football for almost 44 years, barring injury, Treylon Burks will be a hit, maybe in time, the biggest of this draft.

Not because he was an Arkansas Razorback -- and a great one -- but because he's a top-shelf receiver along the lines of Keith Jackson.

Jackson was a two-time All-American at Oklahoma and spent nine years in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers. Then walked away without any surgeries.

Jackson had wide receiver speed in a tight end body.

The same can be said about Burks.

Jackson had the biggest, softest hands ever seen, until Burks, who also has the skills and ability to make mission impossible catches look like a routine day in practice.

That was the first thing noticed about Burks as a Razorback. He made catches most receivers only dream of making, and he made them consistently.

Before getting away from Jackson, who was born in Little Rock, at the forefront was his intelligence and politeness. He was raised right.

Again, Burks comes from that same mold: Smart, a little quiet, but always uses good manners and good sense.

For some reason, a few folks were disappointed when Burks ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Those disappointed didn't see him outrun three Alabama defensive backs.

When asked about his time, he politely asked, "Who caught me in a game?"

If they had put a football in his almost 10-inch hands at the combine camp, he probably would have run faster. If they had him running for the end zone instead of a clock, he'd have been faster.

His 33-inch vertical jump and 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump translated into one word: Athlete. A 6-2, 225-pound athlete who will shed defenders with his natural brute strength and somehow always be open.

After his freshman year, he got single coverage a few times, but mostly it was double with backup on the way, and yet he was almost always open.

If he wasn't, he could make the catch anyway,

What no one can measure is the size of his heart and burning desire to win.

No one counted how any times he went to the medical tent last season but never stayed there, usually running back on the field.

He is also the consummate team player.

When KJ Jefferson got knocked out of a game and was in that medical tent, it was Burks who went to check on him. Moments later, they walked out together.

For selfish reasons only, it was disappointing when he decided to forego his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft. He was fun to watch and write about.

Yet, it was the right decision for him and his family. He might have improved a little next season, but he wasn't going to move his NFL stock a lot.

He's projected to go in the first round Thursday night, somewhere between the 18th and 28nd pick.

It doesn't matter. Barring injury, it will be impossible to keep him from being a rookie starter, unless he goes to Green Bay where the quarterback prefers to throw to veterans.

He's predicted to be the fourth receiver drafted, but don't be surprised if in years to come he proves he was the best.

Print Headline: Burks has NFL standout written all over him


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