Burks Looks Like A Bust

Brian Gutekunst was named general manager of the Green Bay Packers on January 8, 2018. He’s made over 100 personnel moves since that time – some good and some not so good. I listed his 12 best moves earlier this month, and now I’ve spent the past few weeks counting down his worst moves. Here’s No. 2:

I didn’t know a thing about Oren Burks when Gutekunst traded up to get him in the third round of the 2018 draft, but at least on paper, the pick made a lot of sense. The Packers desperately needed an athletic inside linebacker to pair with Blake Martinez, and Burks had all the measurables. The fact that he began his career at Vanderbilt as a safety was an added bonus. It was thought that Burks would finally give the defense its first legit three-down inside linebacker since Nick Barnett in 2010. There was only one problem – his tape wasn’t very good.

Burks got pushed around in the run game, and he struggled to cover tight ends. In fact, watching him get abused by Tennessee’s Ethan Wolf – who would later spend time on the Packers’ practice squad – was absolutely horrifying. I kept my fingers crossed that Gutekunst saw something in Burks that I missed. It turns out he didn’t. The 25-year-old has played only 195 snaps in 26 games and wasn’t able to beat out journeymen Antonio Morrison in 2018 and B.J. Goodson in 2019. Multiple injuries haven’t helped Burks’ development, but considering just how poorly he’s played when healthy, it’s really hard to use that as an excuse.

Burks will get one last chance to prove he can play this summer. He’ll be competing with unproven returnees Ty Summers and Curtis Bolton, rookies Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes, and perhaps safety Raven Greene for the chance to start next to free-agent acquisition Christian Kirksey. That’s hardly daunting competition for a player drafted in the third round – a player Gutekunst liked so much that he traded away fourth and fifth-round picks. Burks really needs to step up. It’s bad enough when a general manager misses so egregiously on a day 2 selection; it’s even worse when another pick was wasted in the process.

#8 – Lowry Regressed After Payday
#7 – Moore Was Less Than Expected
#6 – Turner Needs To Be Better

#5 – Graham Added Little To Offense
#4 – Jackson Faces Make-Or-Break Season

#3 – Cobb Was Never Replaced

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Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

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