Oakland Raiders Player Profile: Miles Burris
David Wilson – Jun 3, 2012
Even with the addition of Philip Wheeler, the Oakland Raiders were short of quality players in their linebacking corps prior to the 2012 NFL Draft. I truly believe that in round-four they hit a home run by selecting Miles Burris from San Diego State.
Burris hadn’t flagged up on my radar before the draft, and he appeared to have been overlooked by a lot of teams. The more I have seen of Burris on tape though, the more he has impressed me in many aspects of his game, and he is certainly a Reggie McKenzie type guy.
The knock on Burris has been that his intensity and high motor has had to make up for his lack of athleticism as a college player, but this simply is not so. Not only does he show good playing speed, but his pro-day should have eliminated any concerns about his athleticism.
He ran a 4.62 40 yard dash, which is plenty fast enough if not elite, and posted a 6.68 second three cone drill, which would have been first for linebackers at the Combine. He had an impressive 37.5” vertical jump, and benched pressed 225lbs 31 times. Those are excellent numbers, and do not speak of a player who has to overcome athletic limitations. At 6’2” and 246lbs (Raiders have him listed at 236), he has at least average, and certainly adequate size for the position.
Whilst the feeling amongst the scouting community was that Burris is scheme diverse and could play any linebacking position, it was clear from what Head Coach Dennis Allen said, and from OTA’s that Oakland's plan initially will be to use Burris on the outside.
Steve Corkran quoted Allen in the Contra Costa Times as saying:
“I think right now with the learning curve we’re going to keep him outside LB and let him get his feet wet and then we’ll figure where he’s at probably closer to training camp, and even closer to the beginning of the season”.
But enough about numbers and theories, and on to what the tape tells us about him as a player.
The reported fire and intensity are there, as he never gives up on a play, often making tackles way downfield (you know, the kind you wished Rolando McClain would make every now and then). He has some real hustle and everything he does is to make progress towards the ball carrier. Burris is constantly in the opponent’s backfield, and made 19 tackles-for-loss with the San Diego State Aztecs last year.
Burris has good instincts and play recognition skills, and the patience to wait that split second to make the correct diagnosis before committing himself one way or another. He takes good angles to the ball and holds the edge well on the outside. He possesses the strength, (remember those 31 reps on the bench? He also squats over 600lbs) and technique to stack and shed blockers on his way to making the tackle.
He takes on and deals with blockers without losing focus or sight on the ball carrier, and makes good progress through traffic to track down his man. He shows a very quick change of direction, and plays with great balance.
What I particularly like about his play is that on sweeps and in the open field he protects his legs well from blockers, and rarely if ever gets taken out below the waist. You need that ability to play on the outside in the NFL.
On passing downs he brings value as a blitzer, with 8.0 sacks as a senior in college, but is more a technique/power type rusher than an speedster off the edge. He keeps his pads low and dips his shoulder, (often wins the leverage battle) and is utterly relentless, but may not be quite as effective in the Pro’s as he was in college with this aspect of his game.
The weakness in his game right now is in coverage, and whilst he isn’t terrible he will need to make some improvement in this area. That is what coaches are for though, and I have no doubt that Burris has the desire, intelligence, and athletic ability to make that happen.
Selecting Miles Burris was the latest in a long line of good decisions by Raiders' General Manager Reggie McKenzie. He has got the type of player he loves with Burris. A hard working team captain who is relentless and physical.
Burris might not start this year in Oakland, but I really believe he is a star in the making.
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