Perhaps no school/position pipeline is stronger than that of Alabama Crimson Tide products at WR. It’s a constant conveyer belt of high-level professional talent, and Jermaine Burton’s 2023 NFL Draft scouting report is next on the production line. Can Burton follow in the footsteps of players like Jameson Williams, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith and break into the first round?
Jermaine Burton NFL draft profile
Rather than come full circle, Burton’s collegiate career has taken him to places he hadn’t seen before making the leap. Burton, who was a four-star recruit out of Calabasas, California, originally deferred to familiarity when choosing his school.
Burton was originally from Atlanta, Georgia. So when a host of SEC schools began offering the high school phenom — of which Georgia and Alabama were included — Burton seemed bound to the Bulldogs. That was where he’d begin his collegiate career, but it wasn’t where he’d make the leap to the NFL.
Burton, who ran a documented 4.43 40-yard dash out of high school, saw the field early for the Bulldogs. As a true freshman, he caught 26 catches for 497 yards and five touchdowns. Many thought a breakout might be on the horizon in 2021, but Burton was diluted in Georgia’s offense. He caught just 27 passes for 404 yards and three scores as a sophomore and eventually entered the transfer portal, making the switch to Alabama.
At Alabama, Burton seems primed to finally achieve a long-awaited breakout. In his first game with the Crimson Tide, he nearly matched his touchdown total from a season prior. Things are trending up for Burton, and an early-round NFL draft selection could be in the cards.
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’0″, 200 pounds
Jermaine Burton scouting report
Burton has the recruiting pedigree, and Alabama has the reputation for development. Can the two combine and lift Burton into the early rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft? Let’s take a closer look.
The latest in a long line of NFL-hopeful Alabama receivers, Burton has the tools to follow in the footsteps of the very best. He’s around average-sized overall, but he carries above-average frame density. With his size, he’s an extremely explosive athlete, with blistering acceleration capacity off the line.
Burton can very quickly open his strides and gain vertical separation on defenders. And once he has room to run, he has legitimate 4.4 speed and can easily stack defensive backs and gain separation downfield. Moreover, Burton has the acceleration capacity to be used in motion and quickly take advantage of space. He’s also able to use smooth curvilinear acceleration to maintain speed while bending attack angles at route stems.
Athletically, Burton couples his explosiveness with high-end agility. The Alabama WR carries an abrupt twitch in his movement, which he can use to gain displacement on releases. And after gaining displacement, he can very quickly stack upfield. The Alabama WR is a snappy short-area athlete with an excellent combination of foot speed and hip flexibility. With his high-level agility and hip flexibility, he can quickly stack direction changes and manipulate space, as well as adjust attack angles off the snap.
Burton’s athletic profile is appealing, but his profile as a pass catcher is even more so. In the short range, the Alabama WR has the coordination to make torso adjustments for imprecise throws while maintaining stride. That coordination also extends to other levels of the field. Burton has a great sense of timing when extending beyond his frame and can make smooth contortions to corral high passes. To that point, he tracks the ball well in the deep range. He can freely accelerate and decelerate to get under passes.
In tight situations, Burton’s focus and tracking ability remain. He’s very composed and can track passes while peeling past defensive backs. Meanwhile, at the catch point, Burton has the vertical athleticism to rise and high-point passes effectively. He’s a natural hands catcher who actively guides in passes away from his frame and can secure them with diamond technique.
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For his size, Burton’s hand strength is very impressive. The Alabama WR has the strong hands to haul in passes amidst immediate contact, even when actively tracking downfield. He brings steely focus through the catch process, and overall, he’s a spidery receiver with an enticing mix of high-level hand/eye coordination and hand strength when tested by defenders.
Moving onward, Burton’s athletic profile is notably conducive to success and development as an independent separator. The Alabama WR is able to square up DBs at stems and use lateral twitch to work opponents off-balance. He also very naturally accelerates out of stems and plants and drives with relative efficiency. Burton can use a jab-step to get early displacement, then quickly stack direction changes to gain separation inside.
All of the route-running building blocks are there with Burton. The Crimson Tide pass catcher has the hip sink to carry and sustain acceleration through tight transitions. Moreover, he brings great stopping capacity. Burton can quickly halt his momentum while moving at high speeds and redirect at stems. In a similar vein, he can suddenly chop his feet at stems and control his momentum with impressive ease.
Burton brings a good baseline level of physicality, which assists him in multiple phases. As a route runner, Burton has shown he can use his arms to stab inside his defender’s torso, establish a lever, and compound separation at the stem. He can also use double-arm swipes at the stem to pry defenders out of his cage.
Burton’s physicality translates even more effectively as a run blocker. He’s an aggressive, high-energy blocker who combats opponents with the full extent of his frame. With his corrective twitch, Burton can quickly square up defenders and fully extend, eagerly capitalizing on imbalanced opponents. Burton is adaptable and understands blocking angles, but more than that, he brings a fast play pace and always looks for work.
Burton’s areas for improvement
Many of Burton’s areas for improvement aren’t pressing concerns but rather elements he lacks. For instance, the Alabama WR isn’t an overwhelming size threat and lacks elite length. He also doesn’t quite have breakaway speed and can’t always outrun faster defenders to the end zone. Going further, Burton doesn’t quite have elite agility, as he sometimes has to gather himself after sharp cuts.
Burton’s speed and agility are quantifiable strengths but also areas where he might not quite hit the elite tier. Going off of that, Burton also lacks elite creative instincts after the catch and can better use the agility that he does possess. Burton can better manage space as a creator when accruing run-after-catch yards. He sometimes plays into tackling angles by accelerating into contact when he has the agility to extend and evade.
Moving elsewhere, Burton does show occasional focus drops when extending beyond his frame. He also has room to further expand and maximize his route tree and release package and use his traits more exhaustively. The Alabama WR sometimes has wasted motion at stems and can be more efficient planting and driving.
Among other things, Burton doesn’t quite have the frame density or contact balance to withstand direct hits consistently. And as a blocker, he sometimes lurches past his center of gravity and is easily bowled over by defenders coming downhill.
Current draft projection for Alabama WR Jermaine Burton
It’s important not to helmet scout. The massive success Alabama has had at developing NFL receivers may invite confidence for Burton. But Burton himself also invites confidence with his play. With his talent, he could potentially challenge for a late Round 1 draft slot or be a very solid addition in the early-to-mid Day 2 range.
Underpinning Burton’s profile is a very solid three-level framework. He has the natural athleticism to separate independently, stack direction changes, and carry acceleration through transitions. At the catch point, he’s a strong, coordinated player with excellent instincts and body control. After the catch is where Burton stands to improve most, but even there, his quick acceleration and speed can enable him to elongate seams in the defense.
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For Burton, a stronger sense of creativity after the catch could bode well. He can also further expand his route tree, as well as minimize occasional focus drops when working past his frame. But overall, Burton is a very solid, well-rounded receiving threat with the athleticism to separate, stack defenders, and utilize space effectively. And as a bonus, he’s an excellent run blocker, from whom effort is never an issue.
Either late in Round 1 or early-to-mid Day 2, Burton should garner looks as an eventual productive starting WR with versatility between the boundary and the slot as a movement Z. He has the agility, twitch, and physicality to beat press and can be a very proficient three-level receiver at his max projection.
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