The comparison of Tennessee Titans first-round pick Treylon Burks to former wideout A.J. Brown is one that will likely follow the former for the entirety of his career.
The two are near carbon copies of one another stylistically, and Tennessee’s trade of Brown to Philadelphia facilitated Burks’ selection 18th overall.
However, justified or not, Burks will be under a microscope during his rookie season and beyond, and his career accomplishments more than likely will always be compared to what Brown would have done had he not been traded.
“You could probably draw some similarities there, but each individual player is different,” Titans GM Jon Robinson said. “They have their own unique way of how they play the game. The more we spent time with Treylon and watched the film and dug into it, we felt like he did a lot of things physically that we like for that position.”
Burks was clear he doesn’t consider himself as a Brown replacement, stating he is simply looking to take advantage of the opportunity the Titans were giving him.
But a closer examination of Burks’ skillset supports the numerous Brown comparisons by scouts and draft analysts.
“I would say just like how our bodies are, they're similar,” Burks said. “But we also have different things we bring to the table when we both play football. He's a great player.”
Like Brown, Burks’ specialty is ringing up yards after the catch. Only Alabama’s John Metchie III (1,000) has more YAC since 2020 than Burks’ 985, and his 9.3 yards after the catch per reception in 2021 ranked fifth in the country. In fact, among all Power 5 WRs with 100 or more receptions since 2019, Burks ranks fifth in yards after the catch per reception (5.8).
“We’re excited about Treylon,” Robinson continued. “He’s been an exciting player in the SEC, big yards per catch, he’s a big target, fast, he’s competitive. He’s a player that we spent time with; he came here on a [top] 30 visit, got to know him and excited to get him here in the offense and watch him work.”
Burks, who’s 6-foot-3 and 225-pounds, also led the SEC with 22 plays of 20 yards or more in 2021, and over the course of his career, 27 percent of Burks’ targets results in a reception of 15 yards or more — second to only Alabama’s Jameson Williams (29 percent).
In three years at Arkansas, Burks led the Razorbacks in receiving each year, averaging 16.4 yards per reception (Brown averaged 16.2 yards per reception in three seasons with the Titans). He also accounted for 37.2 percent of the Razorback’s total receiving yards the last two seasons.
“I would say [I’m] big, fast, physical and fearless,” Burks said. “That's my main thing. My great grandpa always told me to be fearless, because out there on the field, everybody is human. That's a man just like I'm a man across from me, and just go play my game and be myself.”
Perhaps Burks’ peak value to the Titans could come from the slot. He ran 681 routes from the slot at Arkansas — the most of any first-round receiver in this year’s draft — and just 149 from the outside.
The Titans will presumably want to get the ball in his hands quickly and often — a role he’s comfortable with. Fourteen percent of Burks’ total receptions came on screen passes, more than any other route he ran at Arkansas.
“I would just say I'm willing to do whatever they want me to do,” Burks said. “Come in the first day, work hard, work my ass off and just do whatever the plan [is] that they put in front of me and execute.”
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