The Titans made the biggest splash of the NFL Draft when they traded star receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles for a Round 1 and Round 3 pick. Tennessee then wasted little time finding their Brown replacement, opting to take Arkansas WR Treylon Burks with the 18th overall pick. Burks was frequently compared to Brown throughout the pre-draft process, as both players possess impressive YAC ability with prototypical alpha receiver size. Sharp Football Analysis’ Rich Hribar provided some numbers to back up the notion that Burks is a maestro with the ball in his hands:
“Burks is amazing with the football in his hands. 57.2% of his yardage in 2021 came after the catch (third in this class) while he was second in yards after the catch per reception (9.6 yards).”
ETR dynasty expert Anthony Amico wrote way back in February that Burks has some A.J. Brown in his game:
“Treylon Burks is an elite WR prospect who will challenge to be the top player off the board both at his position in the NFL Draft, and overall in dynasty rookie drafts. There is one name that appears to be consistent in the scouting community when comparing Burks to an NFL player — A.J. Brown. This comparison is backed up by statistical analysis.”
A talent like Brown is irreplaceable, but Burks’ style of play makes him as good an option as any, and he should have every opportunity to earn the WR1 role right away. Let’s take a look at where he ranks in ETR’s projections.
Projection: 66.9 catches on 107.0 targets for 874.1 yards and 5.5 touchdowns. WR30 on Underdog (60th overall).
- Burks contributed as a freshman at Arkansas, but he didn’t experience a true breakout (a Dominator Rating of at least 30%) until his sophomore year. He was highly efficient during his final two seasons in Fayetteville, and throughout his career he contributed in all three facets — receiving, rushing, and the return game — demonstrating the Razorbacks’ desire to get the ball in his hands in any manner possible. Burks was the WR2 in ETR’s pre-draft rookie rankings, and Amico compared him to both Brown and Deebo Samuel. Statistically, he has as strong of a profile as any one wideout in this class.
- The Titans have plenty of vacated targets with Brown out of the picture. Robert Woods is a dependable veteran presence, but he’s also 30 years old and coming off an ACL injury. We have Burks with a slightly higher target share than Woods right now (20.0% vs. 18.4%). If healthy, Woods could open the season as the WR1, but Burks’ talent should shine through as the season progresses. There is ample evidence that rookie wideouts see an increase in production as the year goes on, and Burks is the favorite to be the Titans’ WR1 by the end of 2022. Even if Woods is Ryan Tannehill‘s favorite target, Burks should still be able to post a robust target share on account of the Titans’ weak wide receiver depth. We have Burks with the highest target share of any wideout in this rookie class.
- Tennessee will still be a run-heavy team centered around Derrick Henry, meaning Burks will need to be efficient to vastly outperform his ADP. He was efficient in college and the Titans’ passing game lends itself to efficient receiving numbers, but it’s something to keep in mind when gauging Burks’ ceiling.
OTHER TITANS PLAYERS
- Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine are in line for more targets now that they’re competing with the rookie Burks rather than one of the most dominant wideouts in football. We also added some more uncertainty in case the Titans decide to add further to their receiving corps.
- Tannehill’s passing efficiency dipped slightly now that he’s throwing to Burks instead of Brown.