Photo of Keenan Burton
Grade
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  • 38.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 125.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.77 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.20 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 11.36 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'1" Height
  • 200LBS. Weight

Overview

When Keenan Burton was out of the lineup with assorted injuries -- knee, foot and ankle -- during his career, the Wildcats were a different team.

Back from injury, Burton had a banner junior season. Burton became just the third player in school history to gain over 1,000 yards receiving in a season (1,036) in 2006 and is also the third Wildcat to ever amass over 2,000 receiving yards in a career. His 12 touchdown receptions in 2006 rank second on the school's single-season record list. He also set another Kentucky record by catching at least two touchdown passes in four consecutive games (Mississippi State, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Monroe).

At DuPont Manual High School, Burton excelled as a quarterback and safety. He earned first-team All-State from the Associated Press and the Louisville Courier-Journal and was named to the Lexington Herald-Leader "Class of the Commonwealth" listing of the top-22 seniors in the state during his senior year. He was the sixth-ranked prospect in Kentucky by Super Prep, ranking fifth in the state and among the nation's top fifty defensive backs, according to Rivals.com and Prep Star. He also added All-County and All-District honors as a junior and senior.

The MVP of the Kentucky/Tennessee HS All-Star Game in the summer of 2003, Burton helped his school reach the Class AAAA state playoffs four consecutive seasons. He started the last three of his four seasons with the team, lining up mostly at quarterback on offense, although he did see some action as a receiver, running back, and kick returner.

Burton carried the ball 274 times for 1,634 yards (6.0-yard average) and 25 touchdowns during his career. He completed 81 of 226 passes (35.8%) for 1,605 yards and 17 scores. He also recorded 98 tackles, along with 30 pass deflections and 10 interceptions, returning two of those picks for touchdowns, adding another score on a punt return. "Keenan has the quickest first step I've seen in a long time," said Manual High coach Joe Nichols. "He has really deceptive speed and great hands."

Burton also lettered in track, competing in the 400- and 800-meter dashes, 4x200-, 4x400-, and 4x800-meter relays, the long jump, and the triple-jump. He competed in the state meet in all three relays and both jumps. He was a member of the school's student council and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Burton enrolled at Kentucky in 2003, turning down scholarship offers from Northwestern, Indiana, Marshall, Louisville, Miami (Ohio) and Boston College. The son of former Morehead State football and track participant, Ed Burton, Keenan Burton earned Knoxville News-Sentinel Freshman All-Southeastern Conference honors that season. In 12 games, he made five starts at split end. He ranked fifth on the team with 20 receptions for 221 yards (11.1-yard average) and a pair of touchdowns, with 11 catches for first downs.

Prior to the 2004 season opener, Burton suffered a left wrist fracture. He appeared in the team's first two games before the coaching staff applied for a medical hardship. He had just two catches for 13 yards, adding 88 yards on three kickoff returns (29.3-yard average) before spending the rest of the season on the sidelines.

Injuries continued to plague Burton in 2005, as he appeared in only seven games while twice undergoing right foot surgery (in September, 2005, and again in January, 2006) to repair a broken bone. He still finished third on the team with 24 catches for 365 yards (15.2-yard average) and a pair of touchdowns and 15 grabs produced first downs, converting four third-down grabs and one on fourth down. He returned five kickoffs for 183 yards (36.6 avg) with a long of 93 yards and also had a 30-yard punt return.

Injury-free for the first time since 2003, Burton had a banner junior season. He earned All-Southeastern Conference first-team honors as an all-purpose back and second-team accolades as a receiver. Named one of the team's captains, he also took over kickoff-return duties, ranking second in the SEC with 765 yards and a touchdown on 31 attempts (24.7-yard average) and gained 51 yards on four punt returns (12.8 avg).

As a receiver, Burton became the third player in school history to gain over 1,000 yards in a season, as he caught 77 passes for 1,036 yards (13.5-yard average). His 12 touchdowns rank tied for second on the single-season chart. His average of 5.92 receptions per game ranked 14th nationally while his 79.69 yards receiving per game placed him 21st in the NCAA Division 1-A ranks.

His average of 141.92 all-purpose yards per game ranked ninth in the nation and second in the conference. Of his 77 grabs, 49 produced first downs, as six of those catches came on third-down plays and another on fourth down. Of his catch total, 14 were for at least 20 yards. He had big plays that set up 20 touchdown drives and five other series that ended with field goals.

Burton continued his torrid pace in the early stages of the 2007 season, but flu-like symptoms and right knee and ankle sprains limited his playing time over the second half of the year. He still managed to lead the team with 59 receptions for 685 yards (11.6-yard average) and nine touchdowns. He ranked sixth in the Southeastern Conference with a 24.25-yard average on 28 kickoff returns for 679 yards, adding nine yards on a punt return. He ranked sixth in the league with an average of 124.82 all-purpose yards per game.

In 45 games at Kentucky, Burton started 31 games. He ranks fourth in school history with 182 receptions and third with 2,320 yards (12.7-yard average). His 25 touchdown grabs rank second on the Kentucky all-time list. He rushed eight times for 18 yards (2.3-yard average) and gained 90 yards on six punt returns (15.0 avg). He totaled 1,715 yards with a touchdown on 67 kickoff returns (25.6 avg). He also became the fifth player in school history to amass over 4,000 all-purpose yards in his career, ranking third on the UK all-time list with 4.143 yards. He added two solo tackles and recovered two fumbles.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has the ideal frame you look for in a receiver, with a muscular upper body, very low body fat (4.4%), well-defined midsection, long arms and tapered thighs and calves...Demonstrates the change-of-direction agility and low pads to slip under tackles in attempts to gain separation after the catch...Has the timed speed to threaten the deep areas of the secondary, but with his strength and ability to shield the ball from defenders, he has been very effective as a possession receiver...Uses his hands well to defeat the jam at the line of scrimmage and has the loose hips and crisp cutting ability to make the initial tackler miss...Will power through the "chuck" and knows how to use his change-of-direction agility and swim moves to get a clean release...Very good at settling underneath, showing the balance and body control to make shoestring grabs or extend to catch outside his frame...Will push and shove off the defenders with his strong hands in attempts to gain separation and builds to top speed nicely heading down field...Very flexible in his route progression, showing the stop-and-go action to instantly redirect, along with good thrust to be competitive taking on defenders in attempts to get into his route...Has the burst to get on top of the defense and shows nice body control adjusting to the deep ball in flight...Alert to coverage and easily locates the soft areas in a zone...Able to adjust on his routes when on the move and is aware of the sidelines, but it is his ability to set up defenders downfield that sets him apart from others...Has the ability to adjust in his route and get open if the quarterback is forced to scramble, showing good awareness to the sidelines and down marker...It is very rare to see any hesitation in his play, especially when going over the middle to compete for the ball, as he can take a hit and hang on in close quarters...Efficient in-line blocker with the balance and hand technique to provide solid crack blocks for the ground game...Hunts for blockers downfield and will not hesitate to lay an opponent out...Has a true playmaker's mentality, as he will not hesitate to sacrifice his body...One of those "first to enter, last to leave" types in the training room and spends countless hours breaking down opposing game film...Too strong to jam at the line of scrimmage and uses his hip swerve efficiently to avoid defenders to get into his route progression...Used a lot on shallow and wheel routes, as he has the strength to power his way to the ball in the crowd...Has the long reach to get under the fade and bubble screen and, when utilized on crossing patterns, he can turn upfield in an instant after the catch...Made steady improvement extending for the ball with defenders all over him, and is effective at dropping his hips and separating out of his cuts...Has outstanding hand-eye coordination, seeing the ball as it arrives while generating the moves needed to uncover...When he keeps his pads down instead of getting erect in his stance, he is much more effective at gaining and eating up the defensive back's cushion...In the early stages of 2007, he did a better job of planting and cutting out of his breaks...Does a good job running at a proper pad level and coming out of his breaks cleanly when working underneath...Uses his size well to shade the defender and demonstrates the balance and body control to catch the ball and turn upfield without having to break stride...Always alert to coverage and where to locate defenders...Keeps his feet when catching along the sidelines and plays with uncanny instincts to find the zone's soft areas...His ability to adjust to the thrown ball underneath stands out on film...Has the speed to get open when working in a crowd and blocks out all activity around him to concentrate on the ball in flight, knowing how to use his long reach and hands to extend and catch the pass at its highest point...His long reach lets him catch the wheel and crossing routes without having to break stride...Looks natural extending for the ball in flight and has the body control to get into position and make plays over his outside shoulder...H 43 1/2-inch vertical is one of the best figures in college football and along with his 6-foot frame and long arm reach (34 1/8-inches), he is an inviting target for quarterbacks when working over the middle...Has good hand strength to gain position as a blocker and uses his upper-body power to defeat the jam and get into his route. He is a strong runner who can power through defenders who fail to properly wrap up...Also has that stop-and-go action that makes defenders miss...Natural hands catcher with the ball skills to make plays on it outside of his frame...Will more often power through the initial tackle to gain yardage after the catch rather than attempt to execute a fake or a juke to elude...More effective stalking or executing the cut blocks along the perimeter or in the second level than blocking in-line...Competes to stay on his blocks and takes good angles to neutralize linebackers when playing in space. Negatives: Might get a little bit erect in his stance coming off the snap, but he has that ability to get into his routes instantly, using his hands with force to push off the press...On deep routes, could utilize his second gear more effectively and he will drift at times when going long distances...Has good turning motion to catch the ball over his outside shoulder, but does not turn as quick when having to look the ball in over his inside shoulder on deep throws...Has the loose hips and acceleration to ride up on a defender, but could be more sudden when trying to separate on deep throws...Continues to improve as a route-runner, but despite his speed, he does not always run with a smooth stride, especially at the top of the route...Because he is used so often on short-to-intermediate routes than in the deep-area game, it is difficult to get a true feel for his separation ability...Has great jumping ability, but needs to time his leaps better in the deep zone (had 35 passes to him deflected by the opposition during his career), but once he elevates, he has the strength and reach to get to balls at their highest point...Will cradle to catch, but when he extends for the pass, he will generally get to most throws...Can play with pain, but has had a high number of injuries the last few years that could lead to concerns about his durability. Compares To: ARNAZ BATTLE-San Francisco...Burton is much faster than Battle, but both take great pride in playing with physicality, as they have had great success powering their way through press coverage to come up with the clutch catch underneath. Burton has outstanding timed speed and an impressive reach, but is utilized more as a possession receiver because of his ability to move the chains and get a tough first down. He needs to refine his route-running, especially on deep patterns and most of his drops come when trying to catch over his inside shoulder. However, he is a smart, savvy player who knows how to settle into the soft areas on the field and use his frame to shade defenders from the ball. Much like Battle, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Cincinnati) and Hines Ward (Pittsburgh), Burton will make a nice living going over the middle at the next level.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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