North Carolina Senior
40: 4.45 (estimated)
He has good ball skills and awareness when working in zone. Is physical for his size, and does a good job breaking down, wrapping up, and contributing on the edge in run support. Shows burst off the corner as a blitzer. Works well in off coverage and does a good job keeping things in front of him. Has good footwork and a good backpedal.
Lacks size and will have difficulty matching up with taller receivers. Gives up too much cushion. Doesn't have great hips or burst out of his breaks. Can get beat deep.
He's not the biggest corner, but plays hard and is physical for his size. Burney sat out the early part of the season due to the NCAA investigation of UNC, serving a 6-game suspension for receiving improper benefits, reportedly around $1300. Finished season with 30 tackles, 2 picks, and 2 breakups in 6 games. Best year came as a junior, where he had 5 picks. The other three years as a starter, he combined for 180 tackles, 17.5 for loss, 2 sacks, 9 picks, 12 breakups, and scored 3 touchdowns on interception returns.
It would probably be easy to compare Burney to Dre' Bly, another undersized former Tar Heel corner. But Burney doesn't quite have Bly's ball skills. Bly had a nice career in St. Louis as a nickel corner before transitioning to top-notch starter with the Lions. Similarly, I think Burney will be a nice addition in the nickel. But I'm not as high on his potential to develop into a starter down the road. He doesn't have the playmaking ability that smaller corners typically need like a Bly or Brent Grimes, or the discipline like an Antoine Winfield. Although at this point, his game is probably closer to Winfield's than anyone, namely because of how solid he is in run support. He made some big plays at UNC, and that should translate to some playmaking ability, but I don't think he's going to be a guy like Grimes or Bly that is routinely getting 4-6 picks a year. If Burney wasn't so small, I would think he could make the transition to safety. But he should be able to help someone in the nickel and solidify that spot down the road.
Burney could compete for the slot role for the Falcons. But there isn't a lot of difference between him and Chris Owens, except Burney is probably tougher and more physical. If he won the nickel job outright as a rookie, he would be a nice addition. But more than likely, he'll need at least one year to transition to the role, and he'll have difficulty matching up with the quality receivers in the slot. His potential as a starter is limited, but he could be a nice No. 3 in Atlanta long-term, but nothing special.
For a team looking for a nice nickel corner, Burney is probably worth a fourth round pick, but wouldn't be a reach in the late part of the third.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Man Coverage: 3.0
Zone Coverage: 3.0
Ball Skills: 3.0
Scouting reports of the cornerbacks in the 2011 Draft.
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