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USC in the NFL: OTA/Minicamp Performance - Deontay Burnett

Conquest Chronicles checks in on how former Trojan Deontay Burnett is doing in the NFL.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Wide receiver Deontay Burnett #80 of the USC Trojans reacts in the first half against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Despite leading the Trojans in receiving in 2017, wide receiver Deontay Burnett went undrafted after declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft. He signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent and now has the chance to prove teams wrong.

I am the only person I know who watches the last rounds of the NFL Draft live on TV. Delving into the reasons why I do that is a whole other story, but watching this year was particularly frustrating. Wide receiver Deontay Burnett, who had been so productive for the Trojans in the 2017 season that I even nicknamed him “Mr. Reliable,” was getting passed on by every NFL team. I kept on listening for his name to be called, but it never came.

Yes, Burnett does possess a slim frame for a receiver standing at 6-foot and 186 pounds. His tangibles are unimpressive, to say the least. However, he has almost everything else that teams want in a wide receiver. Burnett’s route-running is incredibly underrated as his crisp routes always create separation from defenders and allow him to get open. He also has soft hands, never catching the ball with his body and always possessing great concentration to track the ball in midair to make circus catches. His ability to gain yards after the catch is also strong because he’s shifty with the ball in his hands, juking and spinning around defenders with ease. His size will limit him to the slot position in the NFL, but he is nevertheless a dangerous weapon for any team to have.

Which is why the Tennessee Titans made a wise decision to sign Burnett as an undrafted free agent shortly following the draft. The Titans do not lack receiver talent with starting receivers Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews but do need somebody in the slot, which makes Tennesse an ideal landing spot for Burnett. The fact that Marcus Mariota, a quarterback known for scrambling in and around the pocket, is the Titans’ quarterback makes Burnett’s situation in Tennessee even better. USC fans know how well Burnett improvises while his quarterback Sam Darnold scrambled around the pocket, trying to make something out of nothing. These seemingly broken plays often turned into huge chunk gains that ignited momentum for the Trojans.

Texas v USC
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Deontay Burnett #80 of the USC Trojans makes a catch for a touchdown in front of DeShon Elliott #4 of the Texas Longhorns to take a 7-0 lead during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Burnett has shown flashes in Titans minicamp. Per the Titans’ official website, Burnett made two back-to-back catches in the middle of the field. He did commit a drop later on in practice, but that was probably just the rookie nerves for Mr. Reliable. There hasn’t been much other news about Burnett coming out of Tennessee, but I am confident that Burnett will impress once the pads come on in training camp and utilize a full preseason schedule to snag a roster spot on the Titans prior to Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season.

Titans fans have a lot to look forward to in Burnett. Mr. Reliable was a standout for the Trojans, and he should prove his worth in Tennessee.