Draft prospect: Kevin Burnett

One linebacker that the Green Bay Packers may consider selecting during the first day of the NFL Draft this weekend is the University of Tennessee's Kevin Burnett. The Packers, who are seeking a starter to go with Nick Barnett and Na'il Diggs, may even use their 24th overall selection on Burnett, who overcame a knee injury in 2002 and had a standout senior season last year.<p>

"Burnett is a tremendous talent with big-play capability. He's extremely smart and gives us a great look with his pass rush off the edge," said Volunteers assistant head coach John Chavis.

If the Packers and other teams pass on Burnett in the first round, they may be able to get him in the second round with their 51st or 58th pick. The Packers have the 89th pick of the third round.

NFLDraftScout.com reports that Burnett is a powerful linebacker who looks good on eye contact, as he has a muscular frame with great speed and strength. He has an explosive burst coming off the edge and while he does show good hand placement, will sometimes try to overpower the offensive linemen, resulting in struggles attempting to shed when working in-line. He is a very confident athlete that loves the challenge. He has made good improvement to play under control, but needs to improve his read and react ability near the line of scrimmage.

The Packers have shown little interest in re-signing Hannibal Navies, who started the last two seasons at outside linebacker. It appears that the Packers will select a linebacker with one of their four first-day picks in the draft. Burnett may be one of those selections, maybe Green Bay's first.

Here is more on Burnett from reports by Scout.com and NFLDraftScout.com:

Ht: 6-3

Wt: 239

40: 4.61

Year: 5Sr

High School: Dominquez (Carson, Calif.) High

Bio: Three-year starter and All-Conference selection who posted 120 tackles (90 solo) as a senior. Team captain the past two years. Played the weak-side position his first two seasons at Tennessee. In 2002, suffered a knee injury in the season opener vs. Wyoming that forced him to miss the rest of the year.

He returned in 2003, starting the final 12 games. Burnett appeared tentative throughout the season as he continued to recover from 2002 knee problems. While the school credited him with 90 tackles (65 solo), 11/2 sacks, 71/2 stops for losses and eight pressures, upon review of film he was charted as having 63 tackles, including 42 solo.

Positives: Explosive defender who forces the action. Fast moving laterally, quick closing on the play and makes his presence felt. Gets depth on pass drops displaying outstanding range and collapses well from the outside defending the run. Breaks down well, plays with balance and rarely off his feet. Disciplined, does not bite the play action and takes good angles to ball carriers. Occasionally placed over the slot receiver and does an admirable job. Defeats blocks and gets through the trash making the tackle.

Negatives: Previous injuries include reconstructive surgery on his left knee in October of 2002. Does not always remain focused and mentally hesitant. He lacks natural hands and is more apt to deflect a pass rather than intercept it, as he does not have the ball skills to look the pass in and catch away from his frame.

Injury report: Suffered a knee injury (torn anterior cruciate ligament) in the 2002 season opener against Wyoming and missed the rest of the season. Underwent reconstructive surgery in October.

Analysis: A tenacious, sideline-to-sideline defender, Burnett is a naturally gifted athlete with improved instincts. Lacks the great size, yet has shown consistent improvement in all areas of his game and could be the next productive NFL linebacker to come from the Tennessee program.

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