NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Rex Burkhead, RB Nebraska All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: RB Rex Burkhead

Player Information:

Rex Burkhead, RB Nebraska
5-10, 214 pounds
Hometown: Plano, TX


NFL Combine:

40 yard: 4.73

Bench: 21

Vert: 39″

Broad: 125″

3 cone: 6.85

20 yard shuttle: 4.09

60 yard shuttle: 11.51

News and Notes:

A lot of times draftniks and media types alike try to fit round pegs into square holes: one common example is calling for the Packers to draft a offensive tackle this year, only they have forgotten that Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod were both 1st round picks and drafting a 3rd OT in 4 years is getting close to Matt Millen levels of insanity.  Other examples include cornerback and inside linebacker, two positions where the Packers have the most depth.  Really, people should think of it the other way around; there are only a few exceptional players every year that are talented enough to change how a team operates (think RGIII or Russell Wilson), most other players have to learn to play in the system already set in place.  So really the question you have to ask is, what player fits best into the system that the Packers have in place?  One of those players I believe is Rex Burkhead.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • “Burkhead is a compactly-built 210 pounds with excellent balance, running close to the ground and with a head of steam. Burkhead is hard-nosed and tough as nails, finishing every run and popping right back after a big hit while showing the downhill patience and vision to follow his blocks.”
  • ” Slasher who uses his foot quickness to find his way through traffic to move the chains. In one-back or two-back sets, can start with the flow then cut back into a running lane, spinning through trash on his way to consistent four or five-yard rushes. His lateral quickness comes into play when penetrating defenders look to corral him; somehow he finds a way to cut left or right to run away from their waiting arms. There’s no questioning his toughness, carries the mail 30 times a game and gives great effort trying to use his good lean to plow through arm tackles for extra yardage. Not used as a receiver very often, but his solid hands, quickness and agility will make him a valued weapon in the passing game.”


Video Analysis:

  • He’s a white running back, get over it
  • Shows surprising lateral agility for a back of his size but clearly lacks top end speed or even a second gear really to threaten defenses
  • Very soft hands, looks like a receiver on the touchdown pass.  Was used often in delay and wheel routes.
  • The most polished pass blocker I’ve ever seen in a college running back; at 0:56 Burkhead is aligned left of the quarterback and slides inside with his initial blocking assignment as probably either a DT or MLB. He has the awareness and knowledge of the protection call to shift back to left and pick up the unaccounted blitzing DB. This is something that even NFL caliber running backs struggle with (Tony Romo’s broken clavicle in 2010 was a result of a missed blitz pickup).
  • Appears to run best as the lone back, but has experience in I and split formations.
  • Comes in with the perception of a bruising back who fights for extra yards after contact, I think he surprises some defenders with his lateral agility by slipping away from arm tackles and cutting against poor angles.

If drafted by the Packers

I would argue that Rex Burkhead is the player that best fits the Packers in the 2013 draft.  I’m not arguing that he is the most talented running back in the draft (I’m sure Marques would like to convince you it’s Giovani Benard), but if the Packers were to imagine the perfect running back for their scheme and offensive philosophy, that player would look a lot like Burkhead.  When looking for running backs, the Packers look for is 1) pass protection skills 2) protecting the football and 3) a tough one cut runner who can gain yards after contact in that order.  Rex Burkhead is fantastic in blitz pickup (his average functional strength will cause him to lose some battles with bigger defensive ends and linebackers, but that’s asking too much from any running back really), protects the ball well and has the size and grittiness to grind out yards.  Also Packers running backs are going to see lots of passes thrown their way and not many true lead blockers in front of them (Kuhn isn’t really your traditional blocking fullback either), which again falls right into Burkhead’s comfort zone.  Furthermore, Burkhead’s deficiencies (namely his lack of top end speed) are masked by the Packers offensive scheme, where running backs aren’t expected to rip off 20 yard runs, rather keep churning yards and keep the offensive in good down and distance situations.  Finally Burkhead fits the mold of a “Packer’s People”, Burkhead is a coSIDA Academic All-American and works with cancer patients.  Initially, if drafted by the Packers, Burkhead will probably be inactive for the 1st half of the season or at best a special teamer as the Packers simply do not put their running backs on the field until they know they can pass protect in the NFL; even 3rd round pick Alex Green never saw the field during his rookie year because of this and the Packers had serious reservations about putting DuJuan Harris in for the same reason.  But once Burkhead gains the trust of the coaching staff and more importantly Aaron Rodgers, he has the ability to become a 3 down running back, something that the Packers have never had in the Rodgers era.




Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


24 thoughts on “NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Rex Burkhead, RB Nebraska

  1. I’m probably not the only one who read this and thought, “Really? Rex Burkhead?”

    But you do make some good points regarding fit, and he might make a good combo with a change-of-pace guy like Harris.

    I have no idea where Burkhead is projected to go…any projections there?

    1. Chances are good he’s going to be a day 3 pick at best, so the Packers definitely can grab him and get good value on him as well.

      1. I will say he’s quicker than fast and he has good initial acceleration, i.e. he hits the hole quickly. What he really lacks is the second gear to beat DBs once he hits that point. Like I said if the Packers need lots of yards quick, they are going to throw it, so you don’t need a CJ.5K type runner. I’d rather have a guy with a 4 ypc that never gets more than 6 yards than a 3 ypc guy who rips a 15 yard run every once in a while

  2. CBS Sports has Rex rated as the 21st running back or the 265th overall player. A 7th rounder or FA. Drafttek puts him as a 6th round pick and the 15th rated RB

  3. He sounds like the kid from Ohio already on the roster. I agree we don’t need another OT in early pick – we need a C/G who can push the interior group.

    1. Are you referring to Brandon Saine? Personally I think they’re different players, Saine was more of a 3rd down back like Brandon Jackson, Burkhead if anything is a faster Kuhn who has no history of lead blocking.

    1. So you’d be mad if the Packers took him for a 6th or 7th round pick? That’s where he’s slotted to go by most of the media

  4. Packers would be crazy not to draft him. Plays like Clay Matthews except on offense. Incredible video. Nothing hurts him, he bounces up like silly putty and can he catch the football and block. He would be a brilliant addition and clearly is a sleeper. Great call!!!!

    1. If it means anything, Ted Thompson was spotted talking to him at his pro day. So presumably Thompson was interested enough in him that he wanted to meet him personally. Does mean anything? Who knows.

  5. Couldn’t agree more on the O-Tackle thing. Those mocks that make no sense whatever drive me nuts. Do those guys have ANY idea?? Burkhead? Only if you can grab him in the 6th or later, preferably UFA. Seen a lot of him. Could be a special teams ace. Not a front line RB, IMHO.

    1. It’s funny when the media mocks a OT while mentioning Sherrod; It’s one thing if you aren’t as in tune with the Packers depth chart as a Packers fan and simply forgot about Sherrod (though it could be argued that it’s their job to be in tune with every teams depth chart), but when they say the Packers have 2 first round OTs and they should draft a 3rd, then it really becomes perplexing.

  6. Kind of concerns me if he hasn’t had much experience receiving. Packers are a pass first offense after all. Seems like an awesome power back though.

    1. While he doesn’t have much experience he does appear to have solid hands. While I don’t know if it really counts as a pass, Burkhead did take a lot of “long handoff” type passes and I didn’t see him whiff on one. I always cry a little on the inside when a RB drops a dump off or a checkdown.

    2. Rex will be the best receiving RB in NFL.Could start in slot for Green Bay (think much bigger and more physical version of Wes Welker). Was best 7-on-7 receiver in 64-team Texas state tournament his senior year in high school.Talk about versatility. He could be another Paul Hornung on halfback passes and he passsed for Nebraska some as QB in the Wildcat.Could be Green Bay zone-read QB if Rodgers got hurt.

    1. Is speed all that important for a power running back? He’s not going to be asked to rip of 15 yard runs or turn the corner. He’s going to be asked to pick a hole and stick his head in there. Also what does it matter that he’s white? If it doesn’t matter if a NFL player is black, why should it matter if he’s white?

    2. Yeah, slow and un-athletic white guy:

      Top performer at the NFL combine in 5 of 7 drills….besting guys like Bell and Ball.

      Slightly bias are you?

  7. 77 Seung Hoon Choi OL 6-2 295 SR LINCOLN, NE

    If we are thinking of Burkhead (I like the name) we need to draft then we need to draft the man who was opening all those holes. Burkhead was on his backside on every shovel pass as well. He pulled on nearly every run to the opposite side.

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