In day one of the NFL Draft the Packers traded down from 14 to 27 with the Saints; in exchange we got the Saints 2019 first round pick and a 5th this year but lost our 3rd round pick this year. So, to make a pick in round 3 the Packers traded up from the fourth with the Carolina Panthers. With that pick the Packers took Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks.
Oren was an under the radar prospect coming out of Vanderbilt. The one thing to clearly get from the pick is that the packers are looking to improve the linebacker spot next to Blake Martinez. Which is a good draft to do it being one of the deepest linebacker drafts in years.
Burks is a very athletic linebacker that has experience in multiple defensive schemes. He was never really a man with a true position, having played multiple positions for Vanderbilt in a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. He’ll also bring quick feet and fluid hips to drop into coverage, giving the Packers another player they can hopefully match up one on one with tight ends, or running backs out of the backfield. Burks has a strong character and is know as a leader on and off the field that shows no fear and runs into gaps with his 4.59 speed.
Although, he does have great speed he has a bad habit of over running plays. He also needs to add strength to better take on the point of attack. He is slow to diagnose plays and may rely on his speed too often which will not fly in the NFL. This may be a factor of having to play in multiple positions with Vanderbilt. This organization has struggled turning their prospects who played multiple positions into the position they envision, but I still think a player with a ton of versatility is the type of player they should be targeting.
Role with the Packers:
Burks may not come in day one and be the immediate starter, but he could work his way into the lineup. I see him being our dime linebacker right away. The Packers continue to draft defensive players who have the ability to play multiple positions. Green Bay had invested a lot into dropping a safety into the front seven in order to get the necessary amount of speed on the field. This pick helps them hit their speed quota, without giving up the size advantage. After a couple of seasons in Mike Pettines defense being paired with Blake Martinez will likely grow to be a strong pair of linebackers for years to come. With Martinez being a steady tackle machine, Burks can step in and try to use his athleticism to make game changing plays when the opportunity presents itself. The defense seemed to funnel ball carries towards Martinez last season, putting him into a one on one tackle situation again and again. He proved he can handle the responsibility, but hopefully Oren can provide some insurance. It didn’t happen often last season, but when Martinez did miss the ball carrier, there wasn’t another Packer defender within range to touch the ball carrier for another ten to fifteen yards.