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Joe Burnett CB 5'9 192 Central Florida 4.57

By: Robert Davis

Burnett adjusted very quickly to the college game, becoming a starter as a freshman in 2005. He was fantastic as a return man and corner, earning 1st team Conference USA honors in both capacities. He had two punt returns for touchdowns, but also had 63 tackles and five picks on defense. As a junior, an ankle injury hindered him late in the season and caused him to miss two games but he did pick off one pass while posting 50 tackles on the year. As a junior, Burnett bounced back in a big way, again earning 1st team All Conference USA honors as a returner and corner. He had 64 tackles and six picks, while adding his third career TD return on special teams. Burnett earned All C-USA honors and even some All American accolades for a senior season in which he had 44 tackles, 4.5 for loss, and four interceptions. As a return man, he averaged 14.5 yards per punt return and 28.7 yards per kick return, including two touchdowns.


Burnett is a playmaker, plain and simple. He has a nose for the football and always seems to be around the action. He is an active and aggressive corner that is willing to make a tackle but he thrives in coverage. Burnett is an excellent cover corner, showcasing the quickness and change of direction ability to remain with receivers in and out of their routes. With the ball in the air, Burnett shows the ability to locate it and go up and make a play on it before the receiver can haul it in. Along with his standout cover skills, Burnett will bring the added dimension of being a home run threat as a returner. He uses the same skills to cover receivers to run away from defenders when he has the ball in his hands.


Burnett shows nice all around skills but he can be too aggressive at times. He can try and make the big play and allow the receiver to get behind him. His natural athleticism and the lack of superior talent in the opponent on a week to week basis allow him to do that in college but it will not cut it in the NFL. Burnett may lack the tremendous recovery speed to make up for his mistakes. His size is also only average but his toughness allows him to make up for it.


There are a lot of questions at the corner position in this years draft, but there is quite a bit of talent. Joe Burnett is a player that has gone under the radar and could be a big time find for someone in the mid rounds on draft day. He is one of the biggest playmakers in this draft as a corner and return man and that value will carry over to the NFL. He checked in a bit shorter than expected at the combine but aside from that and his 4.57 40 time, he was impressive. He showed excellent quickness and fluid hips, and actually was stronger than expected, knocking out 22 reps on the bench. Burnett’s game is very similar to former UCF corner Asante Samuel. Do not be surprised to see him outplay a lot of corners draft ahead of him on draft day.

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