With training camp just a few days away, we have been profiling a couple of long shots to crack the final 53 man roster this week. Today we will continue with fifth round draft pick, Joe Burnett.
Joe Burnett was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round (168th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. Burnett hails from Central Florida University where he was a four year starter at cornerback and returned kick-offs and punts. Burnett has been described as an all around athlete and looks more like a running back than he does a corner. He has quick burst, speed wise and can close quickly in coverage. Being a return man he has better than average hands for a cornerback and has great vision in following and catching the football. Burnett lacks the physical side as far as hitting and tackling goes and does not fair well in shedding blockers. He also is not great in support against the run.
Like most later round corners picked every year in the draft, Burnett has a huge uphill battle making the opening day roster. He has a solid cast in front of him on the depth chart, so will have to prove his skills quickly in camp and contribute immensely on special teams. The Steelers ended the 2008 season carrying 6 corners and go into the 2009 campaign with 8 on the roster. The biggest competition Burnett will face will be from fellow 2009 drafted corner, Keenan Lewis and fourth year corner, Anthony Madison. So far in the Spring OTA\’s Burnett has struggled in all facets of his game and will need to rebound very quickly.
Right now, Burnett is on the outside looking in so to speak. His inability to hit and tackle will ultimately be his downfall as he will need those skills on special teams. His kick return skills may not be enough to save him baring some camp injuries as fellow rookie, Mike Wallace seems the odds on choice to get the job. Depending on what other corners get cut in camp, he might also find it tough going even making the practice squad. Stranger things have happened, but at this point I think Burnett\’s career as a Steeler will be a short lived one.
Below is the college scouting video of Burnett.