As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas from April 28-30, we're taking a look at some of the players the team could be targeting with their 12 draft picks: Round 1 (29 and 30), Round 2 (50 and 62), Round 3 (94 and 103), Round 4 (121 and 135) and Round 7 (233, 243, 251 and 259).
Once Tyreek Hill took his talents to South Beach, it left Mecole Hardman as the most tenured pass catcher in Kansas City’s wide receiver room. In the past, head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach have leaned more toward smaller, quicker, and more agile receivers — but this offseason, they’ve taken a different fork in the road.
Out of the 13 wide receivers that Kansas City currently has on their roster, nine of them are over six feet tall.
Unfortunately, none of them are what you would call a true No. 1 wideout. There are some nice pieces — like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling — but none of them are likely to put up Hill's kind of numbers.
So now the Chiefs are hoping they can find a premier pass-catcher in the 2022 draft class. Can any of them be the next Ja’Marr Chase or A.J. Brown?
Let’s take a look at Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Treylon Burks.
Standing 6 feet 2, Burks certainly fits the profile the Chiefs seem to be targeting: a thick-bodied athlete who moves well for his size. While his NFL Combine and pro day numbers don’t jump off the screen (4.55 40-yard dash), he plays faster.
Despite playing one of the most diva-filled positions in football, Burks comes across as a level-headed, smart and humble player.
In this interview, he is asked where he sees himself 21 years from now. He says that he’ll be coaching his old high school football team in Warren, Arkansas.
Burks was a four-star recruit coming out of high school, receiving offers from multiple SEC schools (including Tennessee, LSU and Ole Miss), but he ultimately decided to remain close to his family by playing in his own backyard.
In a 2019 interview, Burks said that he is honored to wear his great-grandfather's last name on his jersey.
“My family always pushed me, and my grandpa kept telling me when I was younger that I was going to be something in life,” Burks wrote. “My grandma took that role once my grandpa died and was always pushing me to be better. For me to have the name ‘Burks’ on my back is really an honor. I want to rep my grandpa’s name.”
At his heart, Burks is a country boy who likes to spend his time fishing and hunting wild boar with family and friends. He is adamant that when you hunt a boar, you don’t use a gun.
Essentially what happens is this: The dogs find the hog and corner it. Then another dog is sent in to hold the wild animal in place. If it’s too small, they’ll turn the hog loose. But if it’s big enough to feed them and others, it’s time to go in.
Emphatically, Burks explained, “We do not use guns.”
“Using a gun takes the fun out of it,” he added. “Having a knife, it’s more of a thrill that you’re getting up on a wild boar that could kill you. Honestly it’s just a thrill being out there with your friends and family and having a good time.”
College film evaluation
Burks was the Razorbacks’ biggest offensive weapon in 2021, finishing the season with 66 targets for 1104 yards and 11 touchdowns. No other Arkansas wide receiver had more than 24 targets or topped 350 yards.
Arkansas quarterback K.J. Jefferson was eaten alive by the Georgia Bulldogs' defense. As a result, it was also one of Burks’ worst statistical games. But if you watch, you’ll see that Burks’ lack of production was due solely to poor quarterback play.
Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson played scared against UGA. and it affected Burks numbers. In the play below Burks runs a nice route, faking to the boundary while keeping his momentum upfield. QB just didn't have the vision/arm to get it to him. This will not be an issue in KC. pic.twitter.com/hUeJLuOVre— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
Arkansas worked Burks out of the slot quite a bit. This gave them a lot of mismatches against smaller cornerbacks.
In this play, they bring Burks in motion — where he does a good job of splitting the zone defenders. He is such a weapon that to draw off defenses, all it takes is for him to make the slightest motion to the sideline. Here, the safety bites on the motion — and is caught flat-footed.
Unfortunately, Jefferson does not possess the arm (or the confidence) to make the throw. If Chiefs quarterback Mahomes had been under center, this play would easily have gone for 40 yards.
Burks only had 10yds receiving vs UGA and when you watch this play you can see why. Burks does a nice job of fighting through the illegal contact and defensive holding, doesn't give up, fights to get open, and then his QB throws the ball into the wrong zip code... pic.twitter.com/IDO3cSJzBE— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
Despite being held on this play, Burks fights through contact and breaks free just before the quarterback releases the ball. Just as in the previous play, Mahomes would have made the difference. Instead, Jefferson’s throw is off the mark.
Sorry if this sounds repetitive, but Burks would have had 100+ receiving against UGA with a competent QB.— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
QB misses a wide-open Burks and then drops the ball. pic.twitter.com/B3vivzBoFQ
Just queue the Benny Hill theme song for this play. You have to feel bad for Burks. He beats the coverage, gets wide open and then stands downfield waving his arms like a madman. What more do you want a guy to do?
One of the knocks I’ve heard on Burks is that he doesn’t get separation, but I don’t find that to be true. He’s not blazing fast, but he does enough things correctly to create space and make some nice plays.
Burks runs a simple 10-yard cross to the sticks. Defense has him bracketed and double covered in the zone, but Burks does a nice job of getting ahead of the underneath man while beating the safety to the spot. After the catch fights to make sure he made the yardage. pic.twitter.com/8W75V3WKCm— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
Here we see Burks running a simple 10-yard crossing route. He does a good job of splitting the defenders. The trailing slot corner should have played this better, but Burks uses his body to shield the charging safety and make a nice catch in traffic.
Burks is a pretty unselfish and fun player to watch. Some presnap motion, but at its core, this is a simple option run, where Burks makes the correct read and calmly pitches the ball to the trailing runner. Putting the team ahead of his own stat line. Smart and cool-headed player pic.twitter.com/N1Gmgt6m8a— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
On this rep, Burks initially lines up under center. As the quarterback approaches the line of scrimmage, he shifts over to where the fullback would normally be. Once the ball is snapped, he takes the handoff and counters around the strong side. Burks unselfishly makes the correct call — pitching the ball to the trailing runner — which allows them to score. Burks remains calm on the unusual play, executing the pitch to perfection.
ARK moved Burks all over the place and motioned him into the backfield a lot. From what I've seen I would refrain from doing this. Burks does his most damage as a pure WR, and ARK only did this because they were talent deficient on offense. He is only mediocre as a running threat pic.twitter.com/pN9l5Tm1Ul— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
A lot of the Deebo Samuel comps we’ve heard come from Burks taking handoffs out of the backfield. But in the games I watched, Arkansas did this as a decoy more often than they actually handed the ball to him — and for good reason.
When taking a handoff out of the backfield, Burks looks pedestrian. If I drafted him, I would play him solely as a wide receiver.
This is the big-play ability that has scouts excited about Burks. Fellow draft prospect Josh Jobe declines to press Burks at the ling giving him a clean release. The QB just gives Burks a shot at the 50/50 ball. Burks shows good body control coming back to the ball. pic.twitter.com/X6MMImijHO— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
Here, he demonstrates reasonable body control. Josh Jobe declines to press Burks off the line of scrimmage, giving him a clean release. The quarterback tosses it up, trusting Burks to go up and make a play on a 50/50 ball.
This time Jobe tries to press Burks. Burks pushes hard through the contact, causing Jobe to get out over his skis a bit. Burks has nice suddenness in his break coming back to the ball, and then shows good acceleration after the catch to beat the DB's and take it to the house. pic.twitter.com/x0DkvG0Cxq— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
On another rep, Jobe tries to learn from his mistake, pressing Burks at the line. Unfortunately for him, the result is even worse. Burks runs straight through Jobe, taking the outside boundary. Due to Burks’ strength, Jobe gets off balance trying to fight him. Showing good suddenness in his break, Burks cuts off the route, makes the catch and runs to daylight.
Nice play design. Motion #10 into the backfield and then back out wide just before the snap, causing the safety who is mirroring his motion to get caught wrong-footed and off-balance. Burks runs a simple post pattern and does a nice job of getting to the ball for a huge gain. pic.twitter.com/XpllVgLoWi— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
I really like this play design. The safety mirrors the “Y” receiver, while Burks is lined up in the slot. Arkansas brings the Y in motion, shifting him from one side of the formation to the other in order to get the safety's momentum going in the wrong direction. Once they catch him wrong-footed, the Razorbacks snap the ball, hitting Burks on a deep seam route.
Mizzou blitzes, bringing heat up the middle. Burks faints the inside hot route, which makes sense given the blitz, before cutting back upfield. The QB just heaves it up there and trusts him to run under it. Really nice play. pic.twitter.com/Sv3ZL8Pyag— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
Here we see Mizzou trying to dial up the heat, leaving Burks in man coverage against a corner who shifts from the slot to the perimeter. The quarterback sees that Burks is in man coverage, so he throws the ball as far as he can so that Burks can go make a play.
Arkansas lines Burks up all over the field. Everywhere from X WR to HB. He spends a lot of time working as a big slot. He can play every position on the offense. Nice WR screen and run after the catch. Does a good job of securing the ball and getting upfield. pic.twitter.com/0xY5WOxYEQ— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
Arkansas really liked working Burks out of bunch formations. This is a well-designed wide receiver screen. Head coach Sam Pittman’s offensive philosophy seems simple: get the ball to Burks in space — and see what happens.
Nice concept. Bunch right formation, leak Burks out into the flat. Burks makes the catch and turns his body upfield, causing the DB to take a bad angle to tackle him, easily finishes off the play with a stiff arm, and trots into the endzone. pic.twitter.com/sOSEqUShRC— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) April 18, 2022
This time, Burks lines up in a bunch to the right — and then leaks out into the flat. Watching Burks on film, you see a guy who finishes plays — just like he does here with a stiff-arm on his way into the end zone.
How he fits with the Chiefs
Right now, the Chiefs have more questions about their wide receivers than they have answers — and after 2022, it gets murkier. Only Marquez Valdes-Scantling is under contract for 2023.
If recent acquisitions are an indicator of a shift in the team’s wide-receiver philosophy, Burks is just the kind of player the Chiefs are seeking. Acquiring him would give Mahomes an elite offensive weapon as he moves into the next stage of his career.
The bottom line
Coming into this profile, I had watched a lot of Burks’ highlights — but very little of his tape. I didn’t know very much about his background — or even him as a person. All things considered, Burks passes the eye test both on and off the field. Despite his slower 40-time, I don’t think he is going to last until the Chiefs pick at 29 — especially when you consider players who are similar to his build, have run similar times and have been very successful in the NFL.
When the draft begins next week, I expect to hear Burks’ name called during the first half of the opening round.