Rex Burkhead   RB   Nebraska        

TALENT BOARD ROUND  2

 

STRENGTHS

Rex is what I call a Red Zone running back. He is more quick than fast, has high football intelligence and is the type of running back your offense needs to be a playoff team.  He can play in any style of offense, in a two back set or spread offense.  He has excellent hands out of the backfield and can catch the ball down the field as good as any receiver in this draft.  Rex has quick feet that make it easy for him to make cuts and shows good vision in the hole.  He has excellent lower body and upper body strength and balance; you better use good form tackling when you're up against this kid or he will gain extra yardage.  Because of his football intelligence and his ability to make cuts quickly, run routes in a short space and catch the ball, Rex becomes more of a weapon the closer you get to the end zone.  He becomes that player your defense is not sure who to use to match up against him.  He is a bigger version of Danny Woodhead, the Patriots' red zone running back (not as fast) with the receiver abilities that match Wes Welker's.  Rex is a multi-talented player who can play more than one position for your offense and, on special teams, becomes your punt returner inside your own twenty yard line.  He will become a fan favorite and an offensive coordinator's favorite player too.   

 

CONCERNS

Rex is not the fastest player in this draft which may be an issue, but I believe he has enough overall talent and football intelligence to become productive in spite of that.  However, to become productive and stay on the field, Rex must improve his blocking techniques.  The effort is there, but his techniques are pitiful and he will not make a team if he does not improve in that area quickly. Rex is not the type of back that can make his own yards.  He needs a good blocking offensive line to be productive in the running game.  Most teams will suggest that, because Rex lacks breakaway speed, he will struggle playing in the NFL.  I suggest teams that think that way do not draft Rex.  He needs to be drafted by a team that sees talent that is not just related to speed or Rex will be cut and bounce around the NFL until he finds the right fit.  Rex also may wind up being more of a slot receiver more than a running back because of his excellent hands and his natural ability to run routes and separate. 

 

BOTTOM LINE

Rex is the type of player who doesn't look good in practice because he doesn't have the speed to impress you.  This will make it tough for him to get on the field in a game, but once he does, you won't get him off the field.  Danny Woodhead impressed the Jets so much as a rookie free agent that he made the team, impacted in a few games and still got cut.  He was one of the fastest, strongest and hardest working players on the team, but was cut because he wasn't big enough.  It had nothing to do with his talent -- it had to do with his size compared to the competition.  Rex will have the same problem because of his lack of speed.  Wes Welker made the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent and was cut because the Chargers wanted a bigger, faster player.  Wes passed through waivers and was signed by the Miami Dolphins. After three productive years as a third receiver and special teams player, the New England Patriots traded a second round pick for him.  The Dolphins thought simply that Wes was not big enough or fast enough to impact as a starting receiver.  The rest you know.  I suspect that this same thing may happen to Rex because of his lack of speed.  In practice, coaches will see him struggling to pull away and compare him to other players with more speed.  They may struggle to keep him on the team.  They will see him in practice get caught behind the line of scrimmage on sweeps and when running between the tackles and will just think that Rex just is not fast enough.  All I can tell you is to draft Rex, get him into some games, make sure you use him in the red zone and returning punts and then tell me he is not talented enough to be an impactful NFL player for your team. Use Rex in the slot on third downs and he will catch the ball as well as Wes Welker.  Use him to carry the ball in the red zone and he will find away to score a touchdown. I have no idea what round Rex will be drafted in, which is why we use the two board system.  Look for Rex in the later rounds of this draft and don't get depressed if he is cut a few times until he finds the right team that fits his talents.  When he does, he will put fannies in the seats, sell jerseys and have his own cult following.  Trust me, it will happen.  Rex is second round talent that will not be drafted until the later rounds in this draft and that, my friends, is how you find value in every round in a draft.  I would look for the Packers, Raiders, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Colts, Bears, Jaguars, Jets, Rams, Bills all to be interested in a player with Rex's talents because those teams have a big need for a player who has special talents to score touchdowns in the red zone. 

 

Drew "The B.S. Detector" Boylhart

Mar/2013