STRENGTHS - Versatility is what gives Burkhead the most value for an NFL team as he has aligned and contributed from a variety of spots. He has outstanding hands catching - Consistently reaches out and plucks the ball, can adjust to catch off-target passes and is quick getting started up the field after the catch. Whether from backfield or slot alignment, Burkhead ran good routes and was able to get defender to turn hips, so he was able to get separation. An instinctive runner with good vision, Burkhead consistently finds open hole/crease and attacks it. A competitive runner who keeps his legs churning and fights for every last yard, Burkhead has consistently been able to run through hits and low/grab tackles to gain yards after contact. Smart in pass pro, he consistently identifies whom he has to block and can be a good blocker when he maintains technique and effort throughout the play.
WEAKNESSES - Burkhead is a bit of a "jack of all trades, master of none." He lacks the top end quickness to change directions in a flash, does not have a good burst through the hole and cannot out-run angles to make long runs at the NFL level. Interestingly, he tends to be an upright runner before making cut and then when in traffic he runs with such body lean that he is almost tipping over and goes down too easily. Despite showing the ability to be good in pass protection, too often he gets lazy with technique which leads to him lunging and blocking high. Additionally, he has a bad habit of stopping feet after making contact in pass pro, which allows pass rusher to defeat his block and pressure the QB. He has been injured during college career, so his durability in the NFL is definitely a concern.
SUMMARY - Entering the 2012 season a number of scouts told me that they felt Burkhead was a "sleeper" that they felt could really move up draft boards with a strong senior season. Unfortunately, Burkhead battled injuries as a senior and did not have the season that everyone expected. At 5'10 and 214 pounds, Burkhead has an ideal build for a tailback and combined with his strength and balance he can run through arm/grab tackles to gain yards after contact when he runs with proper body lean. While he lacks the explosiveness to get the corner consistently or through the hole fast, Burkhead moves well in tight quarters to avoid hits and gain sneaky yards between the tackles. Although he needs to improve his consistency in pass protection to become an effective third down back, I believe that Burkhead has the talents to do so. Blessed with great hands and good route running ability, he can definitely contribute catching passes out of the backfield and when aligned out in the slot. Overall, I believe Burkhead would be an excellent fifth or sixth round pick by a team looking for a backup tailback and third down back. Additionally, he probably could be effective on limited snaps as a fullback in a west coast style offense.