Packers Profile: Oren Burks

A profile of Packers 2018 draft pick Oren Burks.

The Tape

  • Position: Linebacker
  • Age: 23
  • Height: 6’ 3”
  • Weight: 233 pounds
  • 40-yard Dash: 4.59 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 39.5”
  • Broad Jump: 10’ 11”
  • Bench Press: 18 reps at 225 pounds

The Roots

Oren Burks grew up in Fairfax Station, Virginia, a town on the far southwestern reaches of the Washington, D.C. metro area.  He grew up a young man driven by his parents to succeed both in the classroom and on the field of play.  His sister Whitney is a Division I college softball player at Stanford University.

He attended South County High School where he was a defensive standout at linebacker.  As part of some very successful teams during his prep career, Burks put up huge numbers as a linebacker and also displayed a great knack for special teams play with several blocked punts.  He earned first-team all-state honors in Virginia as a senior in high school.

His stellar play as a prep defender drew recruiting interest from several east coast schools that included Boston College, Syracuse, Miami, Maryland, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.  Big Ten schools like Purdue, Penn State and Nebraska also showed interest in Burks.  In the end, Burks chose to play for the Commodores program at Vanderbilt University.

Upon entering the Vanderbilt program and redshirting his freshman year, Burks began making an impact on the team immediately during his redshirt freshman year.  His career as a Commodore started with Burks playing safety.  At the position for his first two seasons, he recorded 37 tackles and seven pass breakups as a redshirt freshman and 58 tackles, two tackles for loss, three interceptions and six pass breakups as a sophomore. 

Following his sophomore year, Burks was moved to a hybrid linebacker/safety role where he immediately excelled on the field in the always tough SEC.  Upon starting 10 of 13 games his junior year, Burks recorded 59 tackles, six and a half tackles for loss, three and a half sacks, one interception and six pass breakups.  He would build on those numbers for his final year with the program where he posted 80 tackles, seven tackles for loss, one sack, one interception and four pass breakups. 

While certainly impressive on the field during his collegiate career, Burks excelled as well as a student-athlete and showed impressive talents off the field as well.  During his junior season, Burks was named to the Allstate-AFCA FBS National Good Works Team for his work he displayed within the community.  He was also a finalist for the distinguished Wooden Citizenship Cup Award as a collegiate athlete in 2017, awarded to one professional, one college and two high school students each year who display character, teamwork and citizenship.

His work in the community involved volunteering with Project Safe and Soles4Souls.  He was the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Vanderbilt and was also a co-founder of a group called REVAMP (Revitalizing and Empowering Vanderbilt’s African-American Male Population).  Burks graduated from Vanderbilt in the fall of 2017 with a degree in Human & Organizational Development.

Following his senior season, Burks worked out at the NFL Combine and was drafted by the Packers 88th overall in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Future

As a football player, Burks joins the Packers as an athletic and versatile linebacker.  His scouting strengths are his athleticism, range, speed and his ability to play with toughness.  Playing a distinct hybrid role during his final two seasons with Vanderbilt, he displayed that he can handle coverage duties and rush the passer as well.  His leadership abilities both on and off the field are highly noted as well.

The scouted weaknesses coming into the NFL for Burks were his inexperience playing inside linebacker, inability to get off of blocks and a need to tackle more consistently at the NFL level. 

Burks was showcased all over the field during his senior season.  He lined up at inside linebacker, slot corner, EDGE rusher and free safety and showed the ability to be effective anywhere on the field.  How this translates to the NFL level may rely heavily on the Packers coaching staff.  Most see him as a hybrid player built for sub-packages and nickel/dime passing situations.  His pure athleticism could prove to be a huge addition to the middle of the Packers defense if he picks up things up handily during his first year with the team.

With the physical part of the game to be determined for his future with the Green Bay Packers, there is no doubt that Burks has the kind of mind it takes to play at the NFL level.  Being smart, a true leader off the field and a great all-around human being will help his teammates latch onto him and give him a leg up on the playbook and classroom portions of playing at the NFL level.  Hearing his story and researching him further has definitely made me a much bigger fan of Oren Burks entering the 2018 season.  If you have a free moment, his website is also worth your time as well.   

________________________

Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Comments (16)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
hodge555's picture

June 02, 2018 at 08:58 am

Speaking of special teams I'm kind of hoping Kendall Donnerson makes the cut as I can see him as a great replacement for Janis at gunner.

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paxbak's picture

June 01, 2018 at 01:26 pm

What a puff piece - I saw the film on this guy - never have I seen a player at middle linebacker be involved in fewer plays. His athleticism is off the charts, so I hope that translates, but his college career is very unimpressive on the field. Stats mentioned above are very average to below average - hopefully the Packer coaches see something they can use that I don't see.

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dobber's picture

June 01, 2018 at 03:06 pm

IMO he's going to fill that Joe Thomas role early, and will have to earn playing time in other sets. I don't see him being ready to do much more than that. Maybe Pettine can scheme him to get more...maybe the big uglies up front will allow him to be a freelancing maniac. I don't see him doing much more than playing in obvious passing situations for a while.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

June 01, 2018 at 04:20 pm

Saw what film?

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holmesmd's picture

June 02, 2018 at 10:57 pm

Dude, really? His selection was rated positively by everyone but you. Please share what team you scout for., if not...pound sand.SMH

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stockholder's picture

June 01, 2018 at 01:48 pm

I think Burks will be a good addition. Is he Spriggs replacing Bahk. No. He's replacing Thomas. ILB. A guy that should have been Cut and was a terrible tackler. No veteran was worth trading two picks for? Why a Rookie? I understand Need in the first round. But two good 4ths. I think Gute lost on this deal. Burks was not a steal by any means.

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Lare's picture

June 01, 2018 at 02:04 pm

It's tough for any rookie to come in and be productive in the NFL initially, but I think Burks has the athleticism and speed to be a very good player.

His major contributions this year will probably be on special teams and in specific situations, but after a year in the weight room and being in the system he should be the prototypical hybrid player everyone is using now.

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Ryan Graham's picture

June 01, 2018 at 03:53 pm

I'm with you Lare, his first season gonna come with some bumps of they plug him in next to Blake 3 downs...I dont see that. special teams guy, gonna play on 3rd down and passing situations his rookie year, let him work his way into the lineup. I do think once the game slows down for him and he gets up to nfl speed which I believe will happen for him, he will develop into a solid starter and a great locker room guy. Hes gonna get to know the playbook front to back I'll bet on that

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Bearmeat's picture

June 01, 2018 at 05:21 pm

He fills a need to follow around TE/RBs and cover space in the middle of the field. He has the measureables and the intelligence. Time will tell if he's going to be a steal or a bust. Much like Josh Jones, I'm not sure there's going to be much in between with Burks.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 01, 2018 at 03:52 pm

Yes, but will he stand for the National Anthem? Past history suggests not.
I hope that I am wrong about that.

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TXCHEESE's picture

June 01, 2018 at 04:11 pm

If he stays in the locker room per the new rule, I'm OK with that. I think long term he will end up being a more athletic version of Martinez, but he's still a rookie. If he can provide some rotational depth and become a solid ST player, that's all you can really expect the first year. I like his attitude and his smarts.

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WKUPackFan's picture

June 02, 2018 at 05:28 am

Wow TXCHEESE, thank goodness you are the arbiter of what type of protest is OK.

How about a federal government mandate requiring every fan to stand at rapt attention with their hands over their hearts? How about arresting fans who do not remove their hats? Are you in favor of that? Because it sure sounds like you favor requiring supposedly free citizens to pay fealty to the State.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

June 01, 2018 at 04:24 pm

The trade up was probably because Gute and his staff were well aware, either from the combine or private workouts, that other teams were looking Burks as the best remaining inside LB with speed and cover ability. In todays NFl those are important traits.

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4thand1's picture

June 01, 2018 at 04:42 pm

If he can make plays in the middle of the field it's a win.

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Rossonero's picture

June 01, 2018 at 05:57 pm

I just hope McCarthy doesn't throw too much at Burks, as in, asking him to play a bunch of positions. We just saw McCarthy admit that they put too much on Josh Jones in 2017 and it was a bit overwhelming for him.

I am excited about Burks. He sounds like he should beat Jake Ryan at the inside spot and make a nice pairing with Blake Martinez.

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4thand1's picture

June 02, 2018 at 08:50 am

It'll be Pettine's call not MM's or Dom's anymore.

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