Treylon Burks’ disappointing Combine numbers have his odds of success looking slim
Most of the top-tier prospects who attend the NFL Scouting Combine each year come out of the event looking even more impressive than before. After all, they’re considered the best players of their class for a reason.
But not everybody shines in Indianapolis. Some players fall short of expectations, potentially hurting their draft stock.
Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks was one of those players.
Burks is currently listed as the draft’s No. 16 overall prospect and the No. 2 wide receiver prospect on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board. He has commonly been mentioned as a potential target for the New York Jets in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.
Known as an electric playmaker with the football in his hands, Burks has drawn comparisons to A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel for his blend of size, power, and speed.
Burks did not look as athletic in Indy as he does on tape.
First off, Burks did thrive in one drill, which he was actually criticized for, so we’ll debunk that myth before getting into the negatives of his combine workout.
Burks received some criticism for his 4.55 time in the 40-yard dash. Despite the hullabaloo around it, Burks’ 40 time was not the main red flag that came out of his workout (or even close to it). That time is actually quite good for a man his size.
Weighing in at 225 pounds, Burks’ 4.55 time netted him a “speed score” (which adjusts a player’s 40 time based on his weight) of 106.4, per PlayerProfiler, which ranks at the 87th percentile all-time among wide receivers.
Burks’ long speed was not the issue that made his combine performance so concerning. It was his explosiveness and short-area quickness.
In the vertical jump, Burks leaped 33 inches, a mark that ranks at the 20th percentile all-time among wide receivers.
In the three-cone drill, Burks recorded a time of 7.28 seconds, which ranks at the 8th percentile all-time among wide receivers.
The combination of those two numbers puts Burks in extremely ominous company.
According to Pro Football Reference, there have been 39 wide receivers in combine history to post a vertical jump of 34 inches or less and a three-cone time of 7.25 seconds or more.
Of those, only two (Anquan Boldin and Chad Johnson) have gone on to enjoy successful careers, making up 5% of the sample size. The other 37 players have combined for one 1,000-yard season. To put into perspective how poor the group is outside of Boldin and Johnson, its most productive player is first-round bust Kelvin Benjamin.
Most players who perform at such a lackluster level in both the vertical jump and three-cone are not even considered draftable. Of the 39 players who met the aforementioned criteria, just 13 were drafted. And of the ones that were drafted, only one was taken in the first round (Benjamin).
While you never want to overvalue the combine in comparison to the hundreds of on-field reps that a player has put on film, it’s tough to ignore when a player performs so poorly in the combine that he puts himself in the company of players who have been massive longshots to succeed in the NFL.
The concern around Burks’ combine performance in non-40 drills will remind many of D.K. Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks, who overcame a disappointing combine to become an immediate NFL star. But there are huge differences between Metcalf’s combine and Burks’ combine.
Metcalf infamously posted a brutal time of 7.38 seconds (3rd percentile among WR) at the 2019 combine, instantly causing many evaluators to sour on him. He ended up slipping into the second round.
However, Metcalf lit up the combine in most of the other drills. He ran a 4.33 in the forty at 228 pounds (133.3 speed score, 100th percentile), registered a 40.5-inch vertical (93rd percentile), and posted a 134-inch broad jump (97th percentile).
The three-cone is the real killer for Burks here, far more so than the vertical. Wide receivers who struggle in that drill have incredibly low odds of succeeding in the NFL, regardless of how they perform in other drills.
When we take out the vertical jump filter and simply look at the 77 wide receivers who have run a three-cone time of 7.25 or higher, there are still only four (5%) who have gone on to become successful: Boldin, Johnson, Metcalf, and new addition to the group Steve Smith, who had a 38.5-inch vertical. Benjamin remains the only other player in the group with a 1,000-yard season even after taking out the vertical jump filter to expand the data sample.
A lot of players in that 77-player bunch had great vertical jumps, great 40 times, great broad jumps, all of the above, or some combination of those things, but no matter what else a wide receiver does, history tells us that a bad three-cone time is a highly difficult weakness to overcome.
Plenty of wide receivers have overcome a poor vertical jump to become successful. Antonio Brown (33.5 inches), Robert Woods (33.5), Marvin Jones (33), Amari Cooper (33), Cooper Kupp (31), Calvin Ridley (31), Jordy Nelson (31), and Jarvis Landry (28.5) are just the tip of the iceberg. But here’s the thing – every single one of those players had a sub-7.15 time in the three-cone. Most were under the 7.00 mark.
Couple up a poor three-cone and a bad vertical jump, and history says your odds of succeeding are minimal.
Treylon Burks may have taken himself out of consideration for the Jets in the first round.