From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections, and priority undrafted free agents. Today, we’ll be profiling Florida LB Amari Burney.
#2 AMARI BURNEY/LB FLORIDA – 6017, 230 (R-SENIOR)
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Amari Burney||6017/230||9 5/8″||31 3/4″||77″|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Solid NFL frame with enough body mass to hold up in the middle of the defense
— Experience as a DB shows with good athletic ability and speed in space
— Good long speed once he gets into top gear
— Solid blitzing ability, able to get skinny through the gaps to threaten the backfield
— Solid coverage ability, good enough athleticism to get to his zone assignments or cover running backs out of the backfield
— Good tackler, wraps up and gets low through contact
— Slow mental processing and marginal play recognition, gets caught out of position
— Lacks awareness when playing in coverage, loses track of receivers in their routes
— Hand usage and play strength make it difficult for him to get off blocks
— Hesitates off the snap as he tries to diagnose run or pass, wastes a lot of movement
— Doesn’t play full speed to the whistle, low motor
— Played safety and wide receiver for Calvary Christian in St. Petersburg, FL
— 22 years old, will be 23 when 2023 season starts
— Recruited to Florida as a four-star defensive back with offers at Florida State, Miami (FL), Ohio State, Auburn, and Tennessee
— Moved to linebacker after his freshman season
— Played in 58 games over five seasons, starting 22
— Tallied 223 tackles, 15 TFL, 7 Sacks, 4 INT, 3 FF in his college career
— Cousin of current NFL player, Brandon Facyson
— Earned Bachelor degree in Education Sciences
— Four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll
Amari Burney has the NFL frame and strength to be effective in the run game. On the first play of this clip, Burney is able to solo tackle a 240-pound running back who has a full head of steam. He finds his way through the crowd and comes downhill. He keeps good pad level and wraps up to bring down the big Utah back. On the second play, you can see his sideline-to-sideline speed, chasing down mobile quarterback Hendon Hooker. He didn’t have a great angle, but he showed off his athleticism and closing speed. On the last play of the clip, he denies a touchdown in goal-line defense, slipping past the block and wrapping up.
Starting his football career as a defensive back, Burney can be an asset on passing downs. On the first play of this clip, he blitzes up the A gap and destroys two blocks before chopping at the throwing arm of the quarterback, causing a fumble. It’s no coincidence that when Burney has a clear objective he looks and plays faster and rushing up the middle is a good scenario for that skillset. He is quick enough to stay in phase with running backs and tight ends out of the backfield, and strong enough re-route receivers to make sure the release isn’t clean. On the final play of the clip, he makes the big play in a big moment. Against Utah, a ranked team, he intercepted the ball to put away the game.
While things can look good when he has a simple read to which he is able to react, Burney’s mental processing and play recognition are clearly holding him back at this point in his career. On the first play of this clip, he is more or less doing the electric slide as he wastes several steps of motion while his play recognition caught up. This leads to him being out of position more often than not. He will take himself out of plays with a bad first step or two, and he tends to cover the field rather than the player as he often loses track of receivers.
A couple plays in this clip you can see that he gets stuck on blocks. Once a blocker is able to lock onto him, he rarely is able to recover. Some of this can be attributed to the slow processing because he will put himself in the wrong position and allow favorable angles for blockers against him.
Burney has a pro-ready body and some innate athleticism that make him an interesting project as an inside linebacker. When his assignment is clear, and he can be the aggressor rather than attempt to read-and-react, his play speed is noticeably better. At this point in his progression, the mental aspect of the game is the biggest thing holding him back. He has a chance to be a plus-special teamer since a lot of those roles don’t require a high level of mental processing to succeed. The pro game only gets faster, which is especially concerning for Burney.
The Steelers ask a lot of their inside ‘backers. While the team could still address the position at some point in the draft, Burney is unlikely to be on the team’s radar. Mark Robinson is already a project and the team recently signed two projected starters. Burney wouldn’t be a bad player to have on the practice squad and could carve out a niche as special teamer if given the opportunity.
Projection: Late Day Three / Priority Free Agent
Depot Draft Grade: 6.1 – End Of Roster / Practice Squad (7th)
Games Watched: vs Utah (2022), vs Kentucky (2022), at Tennessee (2022)