Cory's Corner: This Is Oren Burks' Year

Oren Burks breathed a sigh of relief after the NFL Draft wrapped up. 

There had been a lot of chatter going into the draft that had the Packers taking an inside linebacker early. Turns out that general manager Brian Gutekunst had other ideas. 

Remember when the previous regime would constantly say how much they devalued inside linebackers? Well, I guess this regime certainly doesn’t either like them that much either. 

The Packers took Ty Summers with the 226thoverall pick. 

Which means, that Gutekunst, coach Matt LaFleur and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine are putting their collective trust in Burks. He was drafted in the third round last year, but many may not know much about him because he only played 122 defensive snaps last year after missing the first two games with a shoulder injury that he suffered during pregame warmups in the preseason. 

In the final five weeks, Burks only tallied 20 defensive snaps, so it may have raised some eyebrows when the Packers didn’t pick an inside linebacker to play alongside Blake Martinez.

However, Burks has what LaFleur and Pettine covet: versatility. He started every game in the secondary as a sophomore at Vanderbilt, started nine games from the hybrid linebacker position as a junior before starting 11 games as an inside linebacker as a senior.

Burks can do it all, the Packers are just waiting for all of it to materialize. Because when it does, Pettine will have plenty of options with what he can do. He will be able to use Burks in coverage, as a run stopper or as a quarterback destroyer. 

And it fits perfectly with what the Packers currently have in Martinez, who is the steady and consistent player with athletic limitations. Burks hasn’t been consistent at all yet, but he is a freak athletically and that’s what the Packers are gambling on this season. 

If Burks cannot get on the field again this year, many fans will be questioning Gutey’s decision to not go with an inside linebacker earlier in the draft. But right now, he needs to be given the benefit of the doubt. Let Burks have his rookie growing pains season as he sorted things out. 

However, that honeymoon mindset will be gone come Week 4 if Burks hasn’t made consistent strides. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

2 points

Comments (48)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Bearmeat's picture

June 04, 2019 at 06:25 am

Burks. Or Amos. Or Jones. All could play that dime LB position. They have some options.

It'd be great if Burks makes great strides in year two. He certainly has the talent. But if he doesn't, it's not like the defense is screwed.

I'm far more worried about the CB position. There are some legitimate question marks there, and you need at least 4 good ones to play solid defense in today's pass happy NFL.

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Guam's picture

June 04, 2019 at 06:41 am

Hopefully Jones is open to time at ILB as there won't be many snaps available at safety for him if Savage is as advertised. If jones refuses to play and tries to force a trade, that will thin out the depth at ILB pretty quickly unless Summers is a huge surprise.

I think the CB situation depends on King's health. If he can play regularly, the Pack will be fine.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

June 04, 2019 at 08:25 am

If Jones refuses to play they should IR him.

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TheVOR's picture

June 04, 2019 at 08:48 am

They should do absolutely nothing with Jones. If he refuses to report, he gets put on the Reserve/Did Not Report. If he holds out long enough, he loses the year as a year of eligibility.

At this point, the player is already disgruntle. If he has no trade value, which I suspect he does not, they should cut him. Let's suppose he reports, and he's a locker room pariah, why would you want that in the locker room.

As I've stated multiple times, I'm not convinced he has any trade value, he's essentially a bust. They can't get him on the field, and when they do, he acts like he's never played organized football.

11 points
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jeremyjjbrown's picture

June 04, 2019 at 12:06 pm

"Let's suppose he reports, and he's a locker room pariah, why would you want that in the locker room. "

This was the scenario I meant. If he shows up but is a distraction. If they IR he can't go anywhere so he's not getting what he wants. He also can't practice with the team so his distraction would be minimized.

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zeroluv's picture

June 05, 2019 at 06:33 am

Trade Jones for the highest pick possible that you can get and move on. The extra pick will help draft a late round hidden gem or help put in a trade package to move up. Another option would be to send Jones to a team who has a “Jones” type situation of their own and give them both a new start. Either way....Jones needs to go.

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Packers2020's picture

June 04, 2019 at 11:48 am

I respectfully disagree.

Our run D was in the bottom half of the league and we continue to struggle covering TE's. We have struggled in these areas for the last 8 years yet we continue to ignore the ILB position. I think if Bush was available at 12, we would have picked him and this D would be better considerably because of it. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Jones will be gone since he does not want to be here and does not seem to translate his skills to the NFL.

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Roadrunner23's picture

June 04, 2019 at 07:00 am

Burks is the kind of kid you want to root for.
He is an outstanding person first and foremost. He has always given his time to causes he believes in and he is extremely smart and athletic. I fully believe he will be a major factor on special teams this season and will also be a factor as a cover linebacker which is mainly why they drafted the kid.
I am looking forward to watching him develop as a player and in the community.
Go Pack!

11 points
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IceBowl's picture

June 04, 2019 at 07:01 am

A shame Burks didn't gain much experience last year. I hope he got plenty of mental reps.

I hope he is all in.

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greengold's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:11 am

All you have to do, is go to The Athletic, and check out Blake Martinez's podcast when you have some time to listen. Very in depth and eye opening insights into Pettine's scheme, and how he wants his players to play in his defense. Burks will be fine. He was floundering a bit in overthinking, and was trying too hard to do everything perfectly. I'm really excited to see Burks' transformation year 1 to year 2. This should be REALLY good.

7 points
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NickPerry's picture

June 04, 2019 at 07:06 am

"Remember when the previous regime would constantly say how much they devalued inside linebackers? Well, I guess this regime certainly doesn’t either like them that much either."

I'm not so sure that Gute doesn't value the ILB position just because he didn't spend another high pick on the position. I know I'm in the minority here but I'm glad the Packers didn't draft Devin Bush. Sorry but a 5'10" ILB doesn't give me the feeling confidence he'll stay on the field. After Bush and White just WHO would have you rather drafted than Gary, Savage, Jenkins, and Sternberger AT ILB who would have you rather drafted? I know some are screaming names other than Gary but both the Devins were gone by 12.

I think Burks given the chance will do the job asked of him just fine. Getting hurt in warm-ups screwed with my head a little (warm-ups, are you serious) but the dude is smart as hell, athletic as hell, and is playing next to a pretty damn fine ILB in Martinez. With the rest of the front 7 players on this defense Burks will be just fine.

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Handsback's picture

June 04, 2019 at 08:08 am

Nick, I think you are absolutely correct. Bush wasn't the answer for the Packers at 12. I'm not even 100% sure if the other Devin had been on the board they would have moved away from Gary. (IMHO) It's a BPA type of draft and not a lot of choices as ILB in this draft.
If Burks doesn't go, then they will plug in another body. If your line is strong, edge OLBs strong, good DBs....then not having an outstanding ILB along with Martinez is not going to destroy this defense. Unlike previous years where there were a lot of holes and they really needed all hands on deck to compete.

8 points
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Spock's picture

June 04, 2019 at 08:54 am

Nick, Once I got past the author's sentence, "...doesn’t either like them that much either." (Huh?) I agree with the gist of your comment. In today's hybrid defenses ILB's just aren't as important as in previous times. I'm looking forward to Pettine's defense this year.

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greengold's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:03 am

Nick, I agree with you.

The Packers STOLE a great ILB in Ty Summers in the 7th Round. I can't wait to see this kid play for us. He is remarkable. Has as big a motor as either Devin Bush or Devin White, and he's 6-2 241 with 4.51 speed. Both Devins are 5-10 to 5-11. Summers had more INTs than both, more tackles than both, more sacks than both... and he is phenomenal in coverage. Add to that only Summers and Gary have SPARQ and RAS ratings in the "Elite" category from the entire draft class.

Packer fans will be pleasantly surprised once Ty Summers takes the field in the green & gold. I have ZERO doubts about this.

8 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

June 04, 2019 at 10:50 am

Summers just has an injury history otherwise he knows the position. He and Ben Bonogu created a lot of havoc.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 05, 2019 at 12:44 am

I agree Nick. Bush and White were gone at #12. GB had to come away with an edge, FS (absolute must have), and OG high in the draft, say within their first 4 picks.

I would have been interested to see how GB used its two fourth round picks had they not been used to move up in the first.

1 points
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PAPackerbacker's picture

June 04, 2019 at 07:22 am

Burks was my pick for stand out player last year but unfortunately injuries had him sidelined more than gaining experience. This young man has loads of talent and the speed to cover. Burks is a smart player and a solid tackler. He will be a great asset to the defensive scheme, if he can remain healthy. Wishing him the best health and success in the 2019 season and beyond.

3 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

June 04, 2019 at 07:30 am

I sure hope Burks makes a big step forward. Let's hope so. But it just may take more time, perhaps another year, perhaps never. We will just need to wait and see.

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Since'61's picture

June 04, 2019 at 08:19 am

I hope that Burks will come on strong this season. Until then, hype, hype and more hype.
Thanks, Since ‘61

3 points
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albert999's picture

June 04, 2019 at 08:36 am

Hype Hype Hype
They are all hyped until given a real chance without being injured
Give this kid a chance to prove himself as he’s earned it especially off the field

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packerbackerjim's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:36 am

Hype! Hype! Hooray!

8 points
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4thand1's picture

June 04, 2019 at 08:37 am

Another player with shoulder injury, wtf,wtf,wtf. looks like it'll take over the #1 injury over the dredded hamstring. The Packers don't seem to put much stock in ILBer and haven't for a long time. Is this way the NFL has trended ? It's all about pressure from the edge and big push up the middle. I for one am sick of watching teams march up and down the middle of the field on us. I'm interested to see what scheme Pettine will come up with from the front 7. We will have speed, lets see guys flying to the ball.

3 points
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flackcatcher's picture

June 04, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Once the league changed the rules both the FB and ILB positions were finished. Changing the nature of the game is easy, but living with after effects takes some time, and the NFL is finding out that some of the changes has hurt the game (in the short term for now). Every team lived though what Green Bay suffered from in 2017, the lost of an entire secondary unit. Selecting what amounts to bigger Hybrid LB/OLB/SS was what Green Bay had to do under the new league rules. But like what has happened to DB across the league, expect more injuries like Burks as the new LB types goes up against OL who will now out weight them on average of somewhere between 50-70 pounds. Pettine is in the process of adjusting his system and changing his scheme based on the new rules, just as IAMGUTE has change the type of player Green Bay selects for their roster. While it may make for an more 'fun' brand of football, the stress the rules has put on teams on injuries alone, should have given the league pause. We'll see.

5 points
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4thand10's picture

June 04, 2019 at 01:43 pm

This^^^.

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greengold's picture

June 04, 2019 at 08:53 am

I completely disagree with your take here, Cory.

First of all, we had GAPING holes in our secondary, and Gutekunst took Burks in the 3rd Round last year. How is that NOT prioritizing ILB? When Gutekunst took over, the Personnel Dept in Green Bay was more like an Emergency Room. I thought what Gutekunst did last year was prudent, and very much so. Oren Burks was a highly ranked player at ILB. Good pick.

Secondly, you must have ZERO clue the value we added by selecting Ty Summers in the 7th Round this year. Trust me, Summers will turn out to be a better pro than both Devin Bush and Devin White. I'll let you do your own research to see what I'm talking about regarding his stats, film and history, and how they compare. Summers will go down as a complete draft steal.

Wow.

2 points
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stockholder's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:39 am

I did not like the Burks pick. He reminds of Thomas. I just don't see how the Packers could compare him to any ILB great. Starting is by default. Still I trust the experts. Summers will be a starting ILB before the end of his career.

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Coldworld's picture

June 04, 2019 at 12:13 pm

Firstly, I don’t think he is seen as in the mold of the greats of yesteryear. He is an example of the new style of lighter cover linebacker, or heavy box safety if you will, that is developing in response to the ever more pass happy and offense tilted NFL.

The difference with Thomas is athletically profound. Thomas was an undersized traditional LB who squeezed every ounce of potential and learned some coverage. Try hard guy who forced himself into an NFL career. Burks is an athlete who was a safety and knows coverage and played a similar role by the end of college. If he has the desire that Thomas showed, Burks will be a fine player.

2 points
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zeroluv's picture

June 05, 2019 at 06:37 am

I like Summers a lot and I think he will push for playing time. Most backups get their chance when starters get injured. That’s why your play has to make the coaches never look back. Summers has that capabilities. He needs a lot of work but he seems like he is a work horse.

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murf7777's picture

June 04, 2019 at 11:42 am

Based on your thoughts I watched some game films and highlights. Of course the highlights were great and showed his play making ability, but when watching the Iowa State game I noticed quite a few missed tackles against a very good RB in Montgomery. These are the type of RB’s he will see in the NFL. I can only imagine how he would get ripped on this page if he does that in a Packers game. His pass coverage skills seem to be average. I see him more similar to Martinez and not a cover guy we need. Hopefully Burks stays healthy and shows why we took him in the 3rd Rd. That said he has potential.

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flackcatcher's picture

June 04, 2019 at 01:13 pm

Burks was outstanding in coverage against the Lions last year. Both him and CMIII shut down a very good Detroit short passing game playing man coverage. But he injured again his shoulder and was pretty much done for that year. Like any player he can be beaten in coverage if given enough time. But Burks has shown that he can cover for an extended time and can play heavier than what his listed weight is. The downside, is being lighter increases the injury risk at a position where the Packers are thin. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Pack is thin at all positions. Curse of rebuilding)

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Coldworld's picture

June 04, 2019 at 02:43 pm

Burks was a safety learning LB with a coverage emphasis. I think it is likely fair that that he needs work most in that area.

His bleacher report scouting summary made two observations that support your point:

“—Unafraid of blockers and playing in traffic but struggles to disengage from blocks.
...
—Needs to add strength at the point of contact, tackling and taking on blocks.”

I would imagine that was one of the reasons he struggled noticeably carrying his injury last year and has been his training focus in GB. However, I think it’s mistaken to see him as Martinez two. Summers who is bigger but less adroit in pass coverage seems more fitted as a primary runstopper. Burks will need to play the run certainly, but he is a true safety ILB hybrid as I see him being used.

1 points
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hhsbaseball's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:01 am

Ty Summers had over 300 career tackles at TCU. The guy is a tacking machine. He will be starting by the end of the season over Burks.

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greengold's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:07 am

I do not doubt that one bit. Not that I have anything against Burks. As a matter of fact, I'm just happy we landed a rock star player at ILB in Summers, which gives us remarkable depth in rotation. He is literally a wrecking ball. Smart player too. Former QB who knows how to bait QBs into bad throws to make plays on the ball.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

June 04, 2019 at 12:16 pm

More likely Martinez’s primary back up. Summers weakness at this point is coverage despite his speed. That is Burks’ strength. Summers is also about the same weight as Martinez, about ten pounds over Burks.

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greengold's picture

June 04, 2019 at 01:44 pm

Hey bud! Summers is pretty good, and covers all over the place. He covered the slot when they played Iowa St, and held Hakeem Butler to his lowest totals of last season, something like 2 catches for 14 yds.

Sometimes these pundits just spew sh!t, and they don't really know what they are talking about, and then it just spreads, like we saw with Rashan Gary.

Imagine, Summers and Gary the only two players from this draft class with both SPARQ and RAS ratings in the "elite" category... that's saying something. Can't believe Savage didn't make that claim. I guess he and Yosh Nijman were just a few percentage points below, falling into "very good" category.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

June 04, 2019 at 02:52 pm

I am excited by Summers, but he and Burks are different although eventually it would be great if they converge. Burks is a safety who grew and moved forward throughout college. His strengths lie in pass coverage.

Summers shows great attitude and energy and will chase sideline to sideline. He is nowhere near as comfortable in pass coverage as Burks from what I’ve seen and looks stiffer and less agile.

They have differing strengths and weaknesses though both appear to need to get better shedding blocks. Neither are proven in the NFL: there are no guarantees, however, I think both have the potential to be complimentary but different pieces in the Pettine jigsaw puzzle this year.

2 points
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Lphill's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:13 am

I like Ty Summers I agree also he will become the starter over Burks but how great would it have been to have Devin Bush or White in the middle.

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greengold's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:22 am

Just do yourself a favor and look at Ty's highlights, and then his stats, his measureables, and his history, and you'll see we are FAR better off with the way Gutey drafted this year.

3 points
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greengold's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:17 am

I'll add one more thing: Ty Summers is versatile.

Last season, Summers filled in at EDGE for an injured player in week 1 vs. Southern University, and earned the best EDGE grade by PFF in the Big 12.

Southern's HC, Dawson Odoms, said after the game that he thought Summers was one of the better players in the country. “We’re not talking about this ballgame. I am talking about in the country – NFL, college, high school – he is one of the best."

5 points
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4thand1's picture

June 04, 2019 at 09:49 am

Just watched a ton of Ty Summers highlights, I'm impressed. He reminds me of a young CM, only a better run stopper. He is everywhere on the field. Also I can spell his name without looking it up, lol.

6 points
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Point-Packer's picture

June 04, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Burks is nothing more than a JAG. If you feel otherwise, your green and gold tinted glasses have been on too long.

This is an 8-8 team if Rodgers stays healthy and an 0-16 team if he doesn't.

-8 points
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flackcatcher's picture

June 04, 2019 at 01:19 pm

I deal with JAGs all the time. Can't live with them. Can't live without them. Lawyers. Ugh.......

3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

June 04, 2019 at 01:24 pm

There's the spoiler.

I'm not even gonna bother to watch any games now.

Thanks a lot!

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

June 04, 2019 at 01:57 pm

Burks is an unknown quantity in NFL terms. Your clairvoyant skill is noted, however.

3 points
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holmesmd's picture

June 06, 2019 at 08:50 pm

You have no idea what you are talking about as often...thanks

0 points
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wildbill's picture

June 04, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Seems like between Burks and Summers we have two good options at ILB. Like for both to show up big which would give us good production with a nice backup option in case of injury

6 points
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Swisch's picture

June 04, 2019 at 01:40 pm

Ah! Summers love.
With the hope one day to Ty the knot.

4 points
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Cartwright's picture

June 05, 2019 at 02:36 am

If Burkes continues to have problems shedding blocks what good will he be. They'll probably aim straight for him. Hope he hit the weight room hard this off season.

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