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Utah safety Terrell Burgess goes from relative unknown to fast-rising draft prospect

Terrell Burgess barely played his first three seasons.

Now? He could be drafted in the third round.

The 5-foot-11, 202-pound Utah senior has gone from little-known prospect to one of the top safeties in the draft. Starting all 14 games at strong safety, Burgess finished his senior year with 81 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and his first career interception. He also had five passes defended and two fumble recoveries.

To put that into perspective, Burgess’ three-year totals prior to that were 35 tackles, 1.5 TFLs and 3 PDs in a combined 15 games.

So why wasn’t Burgess on the field more before his senior season?

Part of the blame has to do with the players ahead of him, including Marquise Blair, who was a second-round pick last year by Seattle, and Marcus Williams, who was a second-round pick by New Orleans in 2017.

The lack of playing time may hurt his draft stock, but he still has plenty of fans among analysts. The main reason scouts and analysts alike are so high on Burgess? His versatility. He can play either safety position or as the slot defender.

Pro Football Focus lists Burgess as one of the best low-risk, high-reward prospects in the 2020 NFL draft. From PFF’s Steve Palazzolo:

“Finding coverage players is crucial, but it’s a difficult skill set to project due to its volatility from year to year. However, projecting players into similar roles produces better results, and Burgess had the No. 2 coverage grade when covering the slot last season and the No. 4 mark when playing in the box.

“Slot cornerback is a starting role in today’s NFL, and Burgess has the man-coverage quicks and incredible technique and patience to contribute. However, if the slot doesn’t pan out, Burgess has the skills to play either safety position, providing an incredibly valuable fallback option or perhaps a movable defensive chess piece who can contribute in multiple roles.”

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2016 Utah Pac-12 FR DB 3 1 0 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 1 0 0
*2017 Utah Pac-12 SO DB 4 10 8 18 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2018 Utah Pac-12 JR DB 8 11 5 16 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 3 0 0
*2019 Utah Pac-12 SR DB 14 50 31 81 7.5 0.5 1 29 29.0 0 5 2 0
Career Utah 72 44 116 9.0 0.5 1 29 29.0 0 9 2 0


Jake Rigdon (jake@sydwriting.com) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.

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