Time flies during draft season. Once you figure in all the moving parts like the combine, pro days, and free agency it’s easy for a player to get lost in the shuffle. Players fall through the cracks every year. Usually it’s because of lack or publicity or the player has too many red flags. Bad players don’t deserve the notoriety and are just fodder that we have to sift through to get to the diamonds in the rough. Sometimes the diamond in the rough is submerged and buried by a lot of crummy prospects and gets overlooked. One of the worst feelings is letting a player slip through your fingers like grains of sand during the later rounds of your rookie draft who turns out to be an everyday fantasy starter. Analyzing as many prospects as possible will increase the hit rate on rookie picks during the mid-late rounds of your draft.
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Aaron Burbridge, wide receiver from Michigan State, is a player not many people are talking about. DLF currently has him ranked nineteenth amongst rookie wide receivers and thirty-seventh in the entire rookie class. Is he rated low in the rankings because he’s not a very good player or is he being overlooked? If he’s being overlooked, then he could potentially be a late round gem or he could be a player we must avoid if he shows signs he can’t compete at the NFL level.
Burbridge was a four-star recruit from Harrison High School which is located on the outer edge of Detroit Michigan. He caught 68 receptions for 1,473 yards and 15 touchdowns during his final two years of high school. After being highly recruited by Cincinnati, Illinois and Michigan he decided to commit to Michigan State.
He was a late bloomer at Michigan State where he eventually broke out during his senior season with 85 receptions for 1,258 yards and seven touchdowns while leading the Big Ten in yards and receptions. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark seven times during the season. He commanded a 38.40 percent market share of the team’s offense and he also owned 34.90 percent of the team’s passing targets. Burbridge caught 54.48 percent of the passes thrown his way.
Let’s take a look at Burbridge’s Mock Draftable Chart which displays his athletic and physical measurables compared to other combine participants:
His sturdy frame is one of the few positive qualities from his chart as he is 6’0’’ 206 lbs. which is above average compared to most wide receivers in the NFL. He benched a phenomenal 20 reps during his combine workout, marking him in the eighty-sixth percentile range at his position.
The rest of his chart is pretty dismal, ranking below fifty percent in all athletic categories. His 40 yard dash, three cone, vertical jump and broad jump all rank below the thirtieth percentile amongst wide receivers. This means he lacks speed, burst and agility causing him to lack the athleticism to separate from defenders. His hand size is so bad that it’s almost an accomplishment because it falls into the one percentile amongst wide receivers which is impossible to do.
His list of comparable prospects is horrendous and none of the players listed had much of a career. Pharoh Cooper might be the best player on the list and he’s hasn’t taken an NFL snap yet. His workout metrics are a major red flag and it’s going to be very hard to ignore them going forward. It’s really hard to imagine how he’s going to win against talented NFL defensive backs.
PlayerProfiler.com is one of my favorite tools to use to gather information about prospects. Let’s take a look at what they have on file for Aaron Burbridge.
Burbridge’s college dominator rating is at 32.6 percent which is a shade above average. He was also a late bloomer in college as his breakout age is listed at 21.7 which is the age when he first achieved a 20 percent dominator rating. Average productivity does not bode well for his profile as it’s a sign that he’s a middling prospect. If he can’t be highly productive in college how can he be productive in the NFL? Also, he was technically considered a grown man playing against 19 and 20 year old boys during his only productive season.
Like his Mock Draftable Chart, his athletic metrics listed on Player Profiler are below average when compare against his peers. He’s just not a superior athlete which will ultimately cause him to struggle separating from most defenders. His height adjusted speed score, which weighs his size along with his 40 yard dash time, is rated at 94.0 which is in the forty-sixth percentile and just slightly below average.
There are receivers in the league that are productive with less than optimal workout metrics but the majority of those receivers had superb college production or at least and early breakout age. The odds of Burbridge becoming a fantasy asset is highly unlikely when you take in account his physical and production metrics.
Below is the highlight reel from his performance against Nebraska which was the best game of his career where he caught 10 receptions for 164 yards and one touchdown. This game gives a good overview of his abilities, highlighting all the positives and negatives to help pin point his actual skill set.
Burbridge runs a lot of different routes and he’s very good at selling his route to create separation from the defender. He is a very decadent route runner who does a very good job at using his foot work to set up his defender allowing him to make his move. He has the “my ball” mentality, he attacks the ball while it’s in the air and doesn’t wait for it to come to him which allows him to snag a lot of contested catches in traffic. He has great balls skills as he’s very good at plucking the ball out of the air and catching it while in stride. Burbridge is a clutch player who saved his quarterback, Connor Cook, in a lot of key high pressure situations late in games.
His lack of athletic ability is clearly evident on tape, it’s difficult for him to separate from defensive backs while running routes. The majority of his catches are contested with a cornerback draped around him. He doesn’t have enough speed to be a deep threat. Defenders can easily fluster him and take him off course during press coverage.
Earlier we talked about finding the diamond in the rough and having to sift through the lower level prospects to find the late round gem that every dynasty owner loves to hit on in their rookie drafts. Burbridge is more than likely the dirt covering the diamond. There’s nothing that sticks out in his profile that says he can be a dominate player at the next level.
Burbridge is going to be a late round pick in rookie drafts and he has the potential to go undrafted. His inability to create separation from defenders is a major issue and he’s going to need to be paired with an accurate quarterback for him to be successful. He lacks the athleticism to play on the outside so he’s going to have to make his money playing in the slot. There’s a chance he could end up as a Jarvis Landry type of player if he’s paired with the right quarterback but I wouldn’t bet on it. He’s an avoid player for me because he lacks upside and the odds are highly unlikely that he becomes a fantasy asset. If your league has extra deep rosters and you have the space on your team to hold him for a couple years, then he’s worth stashing but more than likely most owners are not going to have that luxury.
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Great Breakdown on this player! He shows lack of separation and seems destined to be a slot guy. Dime a dozen in the fantasy world (4th rd. flyer, dependent on landing spot, indeed).