Over the next few weeks, we'll take a look at some individuals who have, in some tangential way, been linked to the Cowboys and the draft. Some guys will come from mock draft mentions, others from invites to workout in Dallas.
I'll be referencing profiles from other places in this series, but one name, Morgan Burnett, I figured I could do on my own. Him being a Georgia Tech guy and all. (For those who don't know, I'm a GT alum and follow them like I do the Cowboys).
Weight: 209 lbs.
Make the jump...
When Georgia Tech signed Morgan Burnett to a scholarship, it was a big deal. Because of Tech's entrance requirements and limited majors to choose from, they start from a smaller crop of potential high school players. Burnett was highly-ranked and was a coup for the Jackets. He didn't disappoint. After getting some playing time in his freshman year it was obvious he was going to become one of Tech's best players - he only started one game that year but ended up with three interceptions. His breakout year was 2008, when he had seven interceptions and 93 tackles to lead the team.
Strengths: In shortened lingo - he's a playmaker. Burnett does a great job of locating the ball, closing on it and grabbing it when it's in the air. He has good size and could project to either safety spot, but his ball skills are probably best utilized at free safety. In his Tech career, he had some huge impact plays in important games. Burnett has good cover skills and was occasionally asked to cover WRs, and did it well. He can play the run, but there are questions about his tackling form. His athleticism allows him to run to the ball when given a clear path. He can make big hits, but can miss occasionally, too.
Weaknesses: As mentioned above, he needs to show better tackling form, he's been known to go for a ‘kill shot' only to come up empty. Sometimes he leads with his head and shoulders on a tackle, instead of breaking down into good tackling technique. He's very aggressive in coverage, but he needs to be careful; risks he took in college could be exploited by NFL-level receivers and QBs. In open space he's excellent, but can get washed out in run-support if there is traffic.
Overall: Huge potential - great athleticism combined with an innate skill to find the ball and possess it. Has the skill-set to be elite. There were games though, especially early in 2009, when Burnett wasn't a major factor. Needs to be consistent every game, and make sure he combines his ball-hawking skills with solid technique, and not over-gamble in coverage or when making tackles.