Packers Training Camp Countdown: 30 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. Some surprising research shows that Morgan Burnett is one of the most productive safeties in the NFL.

Is Morgan Burnett one of the most underrated players in the NFL?


Sometimes, research turns up some surprising results.

Over the past two seasons, Burnett is tied for fifth among safeties with four forced fumbles and is one of only five safeties with back-to-back seasons of at least two forced fumbles.

Also over the past two seasons, Burnett is second among safeties with 229 tackles and is one of just four safeties with back-to-back seasons of at least 100 tackles.

Take those two facts in tandem, and Burnett is the only safety that is so accomplished in terms of tackles and forcing fumbles.

"Productivity, I think the numbers speak for themselves — 100-and-some tackles and two years in a row didn't miss a snap," safeties coach Darren Perry said. "Durability, consistency — I think that says a lot about the type of player he is. He's still young and I think his potential still hasn't been reached. I think he has a chance to be a really good football player. We just need to keep him growing in the right direction because we feel he can be one of our impact players on defense."

Nationally, Burnett doesn't get a lot of attention because he's quiet, both vocally and in terms of interceptions, and he doesn't have the longevity of a Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed. Burnett intercepted three passes in 2011 and two in 2012. He also doesn't make the highlight reels with thunderous tackles.

Still, it's hard to argue Burnett's production since missing the final dozen games of his rookie season of 2010 with a torn ACL.

Burnett, who led all safeties in tackles in 2012, is at his best in the run game. He ranked fourth among safeties in's "run stop" metric with 22. A "run stop" consists of a solo tackle that holds a first-down run to a gain of 3 yards or less, a second-down run that allows half of the remaining yardage and a third-down run that stops the play short of first-down yardage. That's essentially the same as the Packers' grading system of wins and losses.

Burnett also is a solid tackler, ranking 14th out of 58 safeties in PFF's tackling efficiency metric.

"He's made progress each year," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "Smart, very coachable. From a coach's standpoint, you have great confidence that he's going to be accountable, and he's got playmaking ability. You saw our Minnesota game out here. Without those two interceptions, we're in a doggone dog fight. Because it was, when he made those interceptions, it was heading downhill on us. They come out the first play, Peterson broke a long one and his interception turned the game around. The other one was in the red zone, too. Both those were points off the board. I think he's at a point in terms of being your quarterback and taking over the communication and all those kinds of things, he's confident."

Burnett, who started his career playing alongside Nick Collins and played about half of last season with Charles Woodson, was forced to grow from a leadership perspective during Woodson's lengthy absence. Now, it's Burnett who is the unquestioned leader of the safeties and one of the leaders of the defense.

"I'm not Charles Woodson. I'm trying to be the best Morgan Burnett that I can be," said Burnett, who is entering his final season under contract. "Charles Woodson was a Hall of Fame player and I'm very thankful to have had the opportunity to play alongside him, but right now I have to come in and try to be the best Morgan I can be."

Over the last two years, that's been pretty good.

Forced fumbles, past two seasons

Quintin Mikell: 9

Jarius Byrd: 7

LaRon Landry: 5

Jamarca Sanford: 5

Morgan Burnett: 4

Will Moore: 4

Reggie Nelson: 4

T.J. Ward: 4

Danieal Manning: 3

Donte Whitner: 3

Michael Griffin: 3

Mike Adams: 3

Bernard Pollard: 3

Gerald Sensabaugh: 3

Nate Clements: 3

Note: Mikell, Byrd, Burnett, Moore and Nelson had at least two forced fumbles in back-to-back seasons.

200 tackles, past two seasons

Antoine Bethea: 239

Morgan Burnett: 229

George Wilson: 220

Roman Harper: 220

Ryan Clark: 202

Note: Bethea, Burnett, Wilson and Clark had 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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