FanPost

In defense of Rex Burkhead

Hello Bengal fans! Let me begin by waving the proverbial white flag. I have rarely visited your site over here, so I am not as familiar with your culture or rules. But, I will be frequenting more often now, as you have drafted Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska.

Yes, I am a NY Giants fan, but I am a Nebraskan first. Rex has become one of my favorite all time Huskers and I was really hoping the Giants would grab him so I do not have to root for someone outside of the Big Blue. I cheered the Seahawks and Packers due to Ahman Green. Early in the draft process, I wrote a FanPost at BigBlueView regarding my desire for Rex Burkhead, not only because I am a homer, but I think he should have a better pro career than some people expect. I saw at least one other FanPost regarding Burkhead, but wanted to offer my two cents.

I am just going to paste the post below, taking out the Giant references:

Given our current running back depth, I want to discuss the possibility of drafting a replacement for Ahmad Bradshaw. Being a devout Husker, let’s explore drafting Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska and why I think he is a good fit for the NY Giants.

Meausreables

At the NF Combine, Rex weighed in at 5’10”, 214 lbs. In comparison, Bradshaw is 5’10”, 215 lbs. Right away, they both have the same size and comparable build. Burkhead was a top performer at the combine in terms of vertical jump (39.0 inches, 2nd best), broad jump (125.0 inches, 2nd best), 3-cone drill (6.85 sec, 4th best), 20-yd shuttle (4.09 sec, 2nd best), and 60-yd shuttle (11.51 sec, 5th best). From these numbers, one can infer that Burkhead has good explosion and good agility, some of the best in the draft. Unfortunately, his forty time (4.73 sec) leaves something to be desired in terms of straight-line/breakaway speed. But, the NY Giants already have that type of back in David Wilson. They need someone who can pound the rock between the tackles and Rex could be that guy. No Nebraska fan will ever tell you that Rex was a speed back. He was a reliable ball carrier that could break a few runs, but ran tough up the gut. Burkhead still has his pro-day to improve the 40 time and hopes to do so. He said he ran a 4.4 forty in preparation for the combine (reference http://journalstar.com/sports/huskers/football/burkhead-makes-his-case-at-nfl-combine/article_ffee2eaa-689d-5eea-8547-719ef5eaad99.html). One final note, Burkhead did 21 reps of 225 lbs, good for 13th in the RB class.

Burkhead has certainly made a good case for being an athlete. He was a workhorse at Nebraska and rarely fumbled. With these measureables, I think Burkhead will make a fine replacement for Bradshaw.

UPDATE: Rex Burkhead ran in the 4.5 sec range during Pro Day, source is inside information from Nebraska

On-Field Production

All Rex Burkhead has done at every level of football is produce. He was rated a 4-star RB coming out of Plano, TX and in his SR year had 255 carries, 1,762 yds, 6.9 avg, 28 TDs, 42 receptions, 594 yds. To show consistency, in his JR year he had 304 carries, 1,768 yds, 5.8 avg, 29 TDs. (referencehttp://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/player-Rex-Burkhead-64817)

At Nebraska, Burkhead played all 4 years and had the following totals (reference http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/rex-burkhead-1.html):

FR: 81 carries, 346 yds, 4.3 avg, 3 TDs; 13 catches, 90 yds, 6.9 avg, 1 TD

SO: 172 carries, 951 yds, 5.5 avg, 7 TDs; 15 catches, 148 yds, 9.9 avg, 0 TD

JR: 284 carries, 1357 yds, 4.8 avg, 15 TDs; 21 catches, 177 yds, 8.4 avg, 2 TD

SR: 98 carries, 675 yds, 6.9 avg, 5 TDs; 11 catches, 92 yds, 8.4 avg, 2 TD

Unfortunately, Burkhead suffered an MCL sprain this year and was out for 6 games. Even with the injury, he still managed to average 6.9 yds per carry. He ended up as one of the leading career rushers at Nebraska, not bad for a school that has produced some good RBs over the years. Burkhead has also been a good weapon out of the backfield as a receiver and could do well on 3rd downs. His blocking; however, has been mixed, but probably needs more coaching. He was not always asked to block in college.

Not only does Burkhead produce good numbers, but he is also a leader on the field.

Intangibles

Burkhead is a passionate player and, as previously stated, a good leader (both on and off the field). He has done some great community service in Nebraska, particularly starting “Team Jack”. Burkhead mentored a young child with a brain tumor, bringing him to the homecoming game, along with another sick child (http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=100&ATCLID=205305137&SPID=76795&SPSID=597347-). I could just see Coughlin eating that up.

Conclusion

Rex Burkhead is a workhorse RB, with more determination than most of his peers, and good athleticism. Burkhead rarely goes down with the first hit, but that could change at the NFL level. The competition will be greater and lot have knocked his lower body strength. He has decent hands and could be a weapon.

My projection would be to draft him in the 5th or 6th round.

I made the comparison of Burkhead to Ahmad Bradshaw, which I think is a good one. Burkhead may not have the breakaway speed that Bradshaw had prior to his foot/ankle injuries, but he is just as tough a runner, maybe even more.
I hope you enjoyed this Bengal fans and I will be following you all a bit closer during camp and the season to see how Rex is developing. Already told my wife I want a Rex Bengal jersey to go along with my Nebraska one.
Cheers!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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