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NFL Draft prospect to know: Deontay Burnett, WR, USC

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Could the Cowboys go WR in round one or two?

NCAA Football: Southern California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Blogging The Boys will begin taking a look at some of the NFL Draft prospects that will be in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Some weeks, we will look at potential targets that will be within the Cowboys’ expected draft range. Others, we will highlight some of the elite members of the class.

Another week, another draft prospect to familiarize yourself with here at BTB!

We have looked at eleven defensive prospects — ranging from defensive tackle to cornerback — and three offensive prospects — two wide receivers and one offensive tackle. The Cowboys could opt to add a weapon to Dak Prescott’s disposal, but they could continue building their defense in some capacity.

This week, we will take a look at a potential first-round pick at wide receiver. If Calvin Ridley is off the board, would Dallas still want to add a receiver with their first pick? If so, here is one viable candidate.

Deontay Burnett — WR, USC Trojans

6-foot-0

170

Junior

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Southern California vs Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

As much as the draft talk surrounding the Dallas Cowboys is centered around the defensive side of the ball, maybe it would be a good idea for the team to add some weapons to the offense come April. Dez Bryant is getting up there in age, teams have figured out Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams is hot and cold. Brice Butler is dealing with injuries and is not the most consistent target, and Noah Brown is still developing into an NFL player.

Dak Prescott is getting Ezekiel Elliott back, but it’s clear that the team still needs to add some weapons. An intriguing choice would be USC wideout Deontay Burnett.

Unlike the typical USC player, Burnett entered the collegiate ranks with relatively low fan-fare. The local three-star receiver inked with the Trojans over the Arizona State Sun Devils, Miami Hurricanes, and Michigan Wolverines in the 2015 recruting class.

The wide reciever position has featured no shortage of talent in Los Angeles. The Trojans are in on any wideout that they want when recruiting high school recruits. In a talent-rich state like California, it is safe to assume that Southern Cal is loaded at that spot.

Therefore, Burnett wasn’t much of a factor his first season on campus. JuJu Smith-Schuster, two-way star Adoree Jackson, and Darreus Rodgers were the headliners at the position, but Burnett appeared in some games throughout the season. Overall, the true freshman played in six contests over the course of his debut season and totaled 161 yards on just ten receptions. His 16.1 yards per catch was a glimpse of how explosive he can be.

As a sophomore, Burnett’s role increased in a big way — and so did his numbers, especially once Sam Darnold emerged as the team’s starter. Playing in 12 of USC’s games in 2016, Burnett caught 56 passes for 662 yards. Perhaps more impressively, the LA native found the end zone seven times and averaged more than 11 yards per reception. He saved his biggest game of the season for the last: the Rose Bowl against Penn State. In that game, the then-sophomore caught a whopping 13 catches for 164 yards and three(!) touchdowns in a back-and-forth classic.

This season, Burnett has emerged as USC’s go-to threat on the outside. The junior has totaled 74 catches for 975 yards and nine touchdowns. The big year has pushed him up several draft boards, including Chris Trapasso’s — who has him going at 28 to the Carolina Panthers.

Deontay Burnett, WR, USC. There are many similarities between Burnett and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel. However, Burnett is the more polished receiver and can provide legitimate over-the-top speed right away in Mike Shula's offense.

Whether or not Burnett goes in round one remains to be seen; however the USC pass catcher should be a target for the Cowboys in the first two rounds.

*Stats gathered from sports-reference.com