Packers Trade Up, Draft Vanderbilt LB Oren Burks With Pick 88

After dealing their third round pick to Seattle to trade up for Jaire Alexander, the Packers weren’t content to let the round go by without having a selection. Late Friday, the Packers jumped back into the third round, acquiring the 88th pick from the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the 101st and 147th picks, a fourth and a fifth, respectively.

They used the pick to select Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks, a terrific athlete with some questions about exactly where he fits on an NFL defense.

What we know about Oren Burks

Burks started his collegiate career as a safety. He played twelve games at that position in 2015 before moving to linebacker, where his 6-3, 233 pound frame made him a great fit for the modern college game.

That size, though, makes him a questionable fit at the next level. He doesn’t really have a defined position, but considering how sub packages have taken over the NFL, there may be a good opportunity for him on passing downs.

Burks is considered a good cover man and fits the Packers’ athletic and agility thresholds well. In fact, his agility drill times would rank pretty well among Packers defensive backs, much less linebackers.

His three-cone drill time of 6.82 seconds ties A.J. Hawks’ time from 2006, the best a Packers linebacker has ever recorded, and his 4.15 second short shuttle time is the best of any Packers linebacker. Both of those marks rank comfortably in the top ten among Packers defensive backs since 2005.

How Oren Burks helps the Packers

We wrote in our draft preview that Burks was one of the best athletic fits for the Packers in the draft, so he’s got that going for him. But his positional uncertainty makes him a little bit of a question mark, as we wrote:

He’s not a true edge rusher or a true off the ball linebacker, but NFL defenses are more creative than ever, so that may not matter. He looks the part of a Packers off the ball linebacker, but the Packers have a lot of adequate help at that position.

But with Joe Thomas off to Dallas, presumably for good this time, perhaps the Packers do have an opportunity for an athletic, coverage-oriented linebacker. At the very least, Burks should have a chance to contribute big on special teams.