INDIANAPOLIS — Tenacity and loyalty are desirable, and often rare, traits in a catcher. His hunting history and arm art indicate that Arkansas’ Treylon Burks runs in both departments.
Growing up in Warren, Ark., Burks grew up fishing and hunting deer and wild hog.
“I’ve done this my whole life,” he told the NFL Scouting Combine Wednesday. “You have to go out with dogs and the dogs find them and we come behind them and attack them and take them out.”
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At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds and with that skill on his resume, the safeties better have their head on a pivot if they’re going to crawl to the line of scrimmage. He won’t have the knife used to put the pork behind the front shoulder but will have the resolve.
He said the danger of hunting depends on preparation.
“You have to plan your game before you even go out,” he said, adding that pigs are turned into meat. “Know exactly where they are going to be. Dogs should be put in vests to make sure they don’t hurt themselves.
Burks will never forget his first dog, an American Bully, whose likeness is tattooed on his upper arm. He commemorated his great-grandfather with a dove tattoo on his right arm.
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Burks received a lot of attention at the combine, including from the needy Browns. He has a captivating combination of size, speed (4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and strength to go along with big hands (9 7/8, 4X gloves) that allow him to pull off the ball in the air with ease.
The giveaways were on display Thursday night inside Lucas Oil Stadium as he navigated routes in front of the attentive audience of NFL general managers, scouts and coaches after jumping vertically 33 inches and 10-2 wide .
He acknowledged that he needed to improve his route by running, refining his footwork coming out of the breaks and being more precise. It may not be polished, but it looked smooth.
“I don’t have to be someone else and my talent will show,” he said before training.
In three years with the Razorbacks, he caught 146 passes for 2,399 yards, an average of 16.4 and 18 touchdowns. This year, he had 66 catches for 1,104 yards, an average of 16.7 and 11 touchdowns in 12 games.
The Browns will be looking for a receiver at the start of the April draft. Burks, Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and USC’s Drake London are considered the best wides in the class and candidates for the Browns at No. 13 in the first round.
Burks interviewed the Browns at the combine.
“It was good,” he said. “Just get on the board and talk to them.”
Part of Burks’ appeal is his versatility. He lined up outside and in the slot and played running back. The Browns are well supplied with running backs with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, but coach Kevin Stefanski and his staff could use Burks’ talent as a running back on bubble screens and jet sweeps.
“I played everywhere in high school,” he said. “Once I got to Arkansas, I kept playing. I just did what was best for the team.
He believes flexibility should make him the No. 1 receiver drafted, but he’s not obsessed with it.
“I just go out there and do what I do for my team and let my film do the talking for me,” he said. “I just want them to know I’m a team player, I put the team before myself. I’m just going to go out there and play ball for the organization I’m part of.
When Burks was in his receiver role, he spent most of the time in the slot, but thinks it’s best to line up on the sidelines. What does he do best?
“I would say just being out there on an island, one-on-one, match with the corner and just knowing that I’m going to overpower him with my physicality and my speed and beat him one-on-one.”
If the Browns selected Burks, he would likely step into the No. 1 receiver role immediately. Ja’Marr Chase did that with the Bengals last season after being the No. 5 pick. He caught 81 passes for 1,455 yards, an 18.0 average and 13 touchdowns, was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, and helped the Bengals win the AFC Championship.
Burks thinks he can have a similar impact.
“I feel like I can,” he said. “I have to go to any team I’m on and put in the work like he did, master the skills he needed to elevate himself. And the sky is the limit.