[Remember to check the '2010 NFL Draft' section for all stories relating to the draft.]
As we continue our Daily NFL Draft Prospect Profile series let's return to a position where we know our New York Giants need to find some protection during next month's NFL Draft.
That would be safety. The free-agent signing of Antrel Rolle lessens the need somewhat, but there still has to be concern over both the short and long-term health of Kenny Phillips. Despite KP's optimism, an arthritic knee condition is not a good thing for a professional athlete.
The Giants must protect themselves in the event Phillips simply can't stand up to the rigors of the NFL grind. Or, in the event he just is not the player he could have been. Fortunately, this draft is deep at the safety position, and I would be stunned if the Giants do not take advantage of that depth.
Which brings to Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett, the subject of today's profile. Burnett is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound ball hawk with 14 career interceptions. Let's take a closer look.
Morgan Burnett Scouting Reports
From SB Nation's Mocking The Draft.
Finishing his career with 14 interceptions, Burnett clearly has excellent ball skills. Has very good instincts when the ball is in the air. ... Thanks to his athleticism, Burnett showed at times he could play solid man coverage against wide receivers. He can stay with most tight ends, but could be out-muscled in the open field. Possesses very good instincts in zone coverage. Has played on occasion at cornerback. ... Burnett’s size is optimal for the safety position. He’s big enough to take on running backs and hold up against tight ends. He’s also not too big and stiff in his movement, like Roy Williams.
Playing at rover at Georgia Tech, Burnett showed he has the all-around skills to play either safety position. He’s athletic enough to play free safety and cover a lot of field. But he’s also strong enough to handle the strong side. ... He’s just a level below Eric Berry and Earl Thomas.
From the National Football Post.
Burnett is well-built instinctive safety who does a good job locating the ball in the secondary and then closing on it from a center field position. ... Burnett gets up to speed quickly and showcases impressive range when asked to make plays sideline to sideline. He exhibits good click-and-close ability on passes in front of him and can consistently get his hands on the ball. He's an impressive ball hawk in the secondary. Against the run, Burnett does a nice job reading the action in front of him and then taking good angles toward the ball. He isn't a physical tackler.
Prototypical size for the position. A natural athlete. Decent speed. Has the ideal skill set of a free safety, but may also have the size/strength to play strong safety. Great ball skills. ... Overaggressive; loves to go for the pick rather than settling for the pass breakup.
Burnett has a ceiling as high as anyone in this year's draft class but he isn't nearly as polished as some of the safeties ranked ahead of him. He is a play maker, but needs to learn discipline and improved tackling technique. He'll come up with some big plays right away, but he'll also hurt you on occasion. He's worth a second round pick, but would well served to spend a year in a backup role learning the nuances of the position.
Why Burnett fits with the Giants
Because the Giants need protection in the event Kenny Phillips is not able to make it through the full season. On top of that, they need competition for Michael Johnson and the other backup safeties on the roster. Burnett's ball skills and upside make him an intriguing option as long-term insurance for Phillips.
Why the Giants should pass
The only argument I can make here is that Burnett seems like a player who might not be ready to contribute right from the opening bell. Of course, most rookies are developmental projects so I'm not sure that is a valid argument.