FB Michael Burton (Rutgers) - Round 5, Pick No. 168
The Detroit Lions took people by surprise by taking a fullback in the fifth round. This position was definitely a need going into the draft, but I personally expected them to fill this need by signing an undrafted free agent to compete with Emil Igwenagu. Instead, though, they opted to draft Rutgers' Michael Burton in the fifth round.
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 242 pounds
2011: 10 carries, 44 yards | 10 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD
2012: 2 carries, 9 yards | 3 catches, 34 yards
2013: 9 carries, 61 yards | 19 catches, 149 yards, 2 TD
2014: 1 carry, 2 yards | 15 catches, 150 yards
Burton played in three different conferences in his final three years in college: the Big East in 2012, the American Athletic Conference in 2013 and the Big Ten in 2014.
What the experts are saying
Burton is a guy who is going to help revamp this offense and give them the power run game that they desire. He has connections with current tight ends coach/assistant head coach Ron Prince from their Rutgers days, so they definitely did their research on this kid. It appears that he's yet another high-character guy and another former captain.
In his preparation for the NFL Combine and Draft, Burton bulked up by adding 20 pounds to his already powerful frame. But the extra weight did not take away from his quickness, as he exhibited at his Pro Day.
And although Burton may be known to the Rutgers faithful as a lunchpail guy, hard-working, tough, humble, he did have a few moments in his career that may have left fans wondering is that Michael Burton out there or Brian Leonard? For example, his 34-yard catch and run versus Washington State. Not to mention, on Jon Gruden's favorite play: Spider 2 Y Banana!
Interesting pass-catcher out of the backfield with more agility and ability after the catch than expected. Burton lacks functional size and run-blocking acumen necessary to be a full-time fullback in a zone-scheme offense and will have to prove to be invaluable as a special-teams player in order to warrant a roster spot as an H-back.
Burton is compactly built with body thickness to hold onto grabs after jarring hits, but enjoys dishing out contact even more with the physical mentality as a blocker. He has excellent vision to find the right defender and deliver a jolt at the point of attack to eliminate his target. Burton is very average athletically and doesn't have the speed to be a big-play threat, but he has the versatility and attitude to line up in the backfield or at tight end and earn his paycheck in pass protection, run blocking or catching the ball.
What he brings: Burton has adequate size and power as a lead blocker. He isn't a hammer at the point of attack, but he quickly locates his targets and takes quality angles to engage. He also does a nice job of moving his feet to sustain blocks. Although he doesn't have great production, he flashes as a receiver in the passing game.
Fullbacks might be a dying breed. but Burton was the best in FBS last season. He was the top graded blocker and wasn’t too shabby as a receiver either. He picked up 150 yards on 15 receptions and forced six missed tackles.
Outlook for 2015
Burton should be a Day 1 starter at fullback, meaning he should play around 15-20 offensive snaps a game depending on the matchup. He will be used quite a bit as a receiver out of the backfield, and he will also serve as a lead blocker in the running game. He should also contribute quite a bit on special teams as a rookie.