Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 NFL Prospect Rex Burkhead - Nebraska Running Back

Name: Rex Burkhead
Nickname(s): Superman;
The White Stallion; Rexman
Hometown: Plano, TX
College: Nebraska
Position: Running Back
Ht: 5'10 1/8"
Wt: 214
Hands: 9 3/4"
Arm Length: 30 7/8"
Workout Results
Pro Day/Combine:

40-yard dash: 4.73 electronic
40-yard dash: 4.62/4.66 electronic
40-yard dash: 4.54 hand time
Bench press: 21 reps
Vertical jump: 39"
Broad jump: 10' 5"
Three cone drill: 6.85
20-yard shuttle: 4.09
60-yard shuttle: 11.51
Positions workout at Pro Day: Running Back, Slot Receiver, Punt Returner, Kick Returner, Quarterback, Fullback

Burkhead has been called a high-character, high effort, focused, lunch pale, jack-of-all-trades, blue collar, hard working running back. Although Burkhead is all of those things he is a player that has tremendous athleticism and will do everything coaches ask of him, and do it well at the next level. Burkhead finished his career as the fifth all-time rusher in Nebraska history, was very productive in both the B1G and Big-12 conferences, and if he had not been injured for part of his senior year would have most likely finished 2nd in all time rushing and rushing touchdowns. One of the most talked about concerns with Burkhead is his lack of a 5th gear and ability to run away from defenders at the next level. After running a pedestrian 4.73 official 40-yard dash at the combine in February, he improved on that time with runs of 4.66 and 4.62, and was hand timed in the 4.5's at Nebraska's pro day March 7, where he reportedly had a very strong overall workout showing his athleticism, versatility, and route running/receiving abilities. Burkhead reportedly had a strong NFL Combine performance on and off the field, and finished in the Top Performers at 5 out of 7 on-field running back categories. Burkhead has a nice, explosive burst and proved that he has elite level quickness during the combine while weighing 214 lbs. The quickness and inside burst Burkhead displayed at the combine and pro day definitely can be seen on Burkhead's college film.  Burkhead will be a nice addition to a NFL backfield, and maybe not just as a situational player if he gets in the right offense (Alfred Morris ring any bells). Burkhead has the kind of lunch pail mentality that his coaches and fans appreciate.  Burkhead has a tough-running mentality, and may be the top receiving running back in this years crop. Burkhead will have to learn to attack the rush defenders at the line of scrimmage in blitz protection, which should not be a problem for him with proper coaching and having a NFL caliber quarterback that steps up in the pocket. Burkhead basically had back to back 1,000 yard seasons his sophomore and junior seasons and if Burkhead followed his 1,400 yard, 17 touchdown junior campaign with a similar senior season, he would possibly be a candidate for the 2nd round. As it was Burkhead finished with almost 800 APY and 700 yards rushing with a 6.9 ypc. Burkhead will certainly be a steal for a team from the 3rd round on, and whoever drafts Rex Burkhead is getting a versatile, running back who can fill a role in a committee of backs, do just about everything well at the position, be a team leader, and learn the offensive packages quickly enough to become a starter and carry the load if needed in a pinch. Even though Burkhead has not been given a sniff publicly by Draft Expert Mel Kiper, Jr. he may end up being a key running back drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft.  Mike Mayock commented on Burkhead's "off the chart" athleticism during the NFL Combine

Burkhead's biggest overlooked strength is his football knowledge and versatility, which allows him to quickly adapt to the changing flow of the game.  Burkhead dealt with many eight and nine man fronts during his college career and through his versatility he was able to quickly adapt by quickly identifying and switching his running style during the game to a one-cut, downhill, power runner. Burkhead has good size for the position, and I am sure with his work ethic he will bulk up some for the NFL, and probably easily weigh in the 220's, the weight he played at during his senior season. What makes Burkhead unique is clearly his receiver skills, but also that he could thrive in a Mike Shanahan running style offense or still be very effective in the pistol or any other revitalized offense. Burkhead is a versatile player that can help a team in a lot of different ways. Does not have to come off the field on third down due to his pass blocking ability and the fact he has extremely quality receiver hands out of the backfield. Although Burkhead does not possess great 100 yard straight-line speed, he does have very good quickness/short burst and the ability to make defenders miss (direct quote from multiple coaches was Burkhead can make people miss in a phone booth). Burkhead has a nice combination of patience, and with his cutting ability and short-area burst, he can quickly transitions to a slashing, cut-back runner who finds his way through traffic. Tremendous vision with elite balance and ball skills.  Burkhead knows how to set up blockers and defenders, how to use lanes, and when to hit the hole. He is very good at starting with the flow of the play and then utilizing his lateral quickness to cut back against the pursuit to find open running lanes. Tough runner with underrated strength and power who has a tremendous yards after contact (YAC) percentage. Burkhead will attack defenders on inside runs and outside runs when needed which adds to his ability to juke them later in the game.  He uses good body lean to run through arm tackles and shows great effort to fight through the trash, always with his eyes down field. Burkhead is capable of bull-rushing unsuspecting defenders and has the agility to make tacklers miss in the open field as well. Burkhead's Character, Leadership, Work Ethic, and Off-Field qualities are second to none in the 2013 NFL Draft. I had to take a second look at this stat about Burkhead twice, because from the approximate 720 touches Burkhead had during his college career he only had four fumbles, and we all know ball security is a premium in the NFL. Plus, Burkhead is known to be "Crazy athletic" dunking a basketball anyway he wants and at 5'10" that is impressive.

Burkhead although clearly an elite athlete that could play any sport or skilled position on a football field does not have break away speed. Questionable if he can get to the edge effectively at the next level which may not lead to a great deal of 'individual' plays. Burkhead's lower body strength has been questioned, but after showing his explosiveness at the combine I don't see that as a problem or concern. He will need to add some bulk to his frame to handle a full load at the next level. Burkhead's durability was questioned after missing most of his senior year and five games of his freshman campaign (in which he came back two weeks earlier than expected), but worked hard to come back soon his senior year which may have added to the total missed games, plus Burkhead is known as a quick healer in the football community.  Despite being effective at blitz pick-up on the college level, his pass protection form is inconsistent and raw and will need to be modified to help true pocket passers at the next level.

After watching eight of Burkhead's college games (each year, 32 total) films and eight of his high school game films one thing comes to mind, playmakers mentality with a nose for the endzone. No game or stage seemed too big for Burkhead during his playing career. Burkhead is such a smart and versatile football player that it is hard to measure his presence on the football field and any NFL team that picks him up is getting a second coach on the field to compliment their quarterback. Burkhead was a really good former high school quarterback, a 5A Texas State Champion Basketball point guard, and a middle infielder in baseball who, according to at least one MLB Scout I spoke with would have certainly been an MLB early round draft pick had he continued to pursue baseball. According to his coaches, Burkhead is all about football all the time ("He loves it, lives it, breathes it, smells it, taste it").  The one important comment was that Burkhead stays focused on football and not on the extra things football brings to him.  One of his coaches stated, "Everything is a competition to Rex."  Burkhead brings a humble approach to daily off-field activities, but is known as a fierce competitor, competing on a daily basis at whatever he does. Burkhead is a huge contributor in the community, participating in many charity events. Burkhead is a complete team player and great locker room guy. Burkhead graduated college in 3.5 years with a History degree, minor in education and proficiency in Spanish language.

Awards and Honors:
  • First-Team CoSIDA Academic All-American (2011, 2012)
  • National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete Award (2012, 1 of 15)
  • Academic All-District VII (2011, 2012)
  • Academic All-Big Ten (2011, 2012)
  • Allstate AFCA Good Works Team (1 of 11; Captain - 2nd ever named)
  • Big Ten Sportsmanship Award (2012)
  • Guy Chamberlin Trophy (2012)
  • Honorable-Mention All-American (Sports Illustrated, 2011)
  • Doak Walker Semifinalist (1 of 10, 2011)
  • First-Team All-Big Ten (Coaches, Media, ESPN, Phil Steele, 2011)
  • Second-Team All-Big Ten (, 2011)
  • Big Ten Player of the Week (vs. Ohio St., vs. Michigan St., 2011)
  • School Record Holder for Single-Game Carries (38 vs. Iowa, 2011)
  • Tied School Record For Most Consecutive Games with a Touchdown (10, 2011)
  • Nebraska Team MVP (2011)
  • Nebraska Team Captain (2011, 2012)
  • Honorable-Mention All-Big 12 (Coaches, 2010)
  • First-Team Academic All-Big 12 (2010)
  • Nebraska Lifter of the Year (2010, 2011)
  • Big 12 Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll (Fall, 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011)
  • Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll (Fall, 2011; Spring, 2012)
  • Brook Berringer Citizenship Team (2010, 2011, 2012)
  • Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award (2012)
College Stats at Nebraska:

YEAR        G        ATT   YRD        YPC               APG   LONG                  Rush TDs
34 vs. Arizona
2010 14/14 172 9905.5 68.033 at Texas A&M 7
201113/132841,4074.9104.452 vs. Chattanooga15
20128986866.985.7573 at Ohio State5
73 at Ohio State

Receiving: Career: 60 receptions, 507 yards, 5 TDs, long of 31 vs. Idaho (2010)
2012: 11 receptions, 92 yards, 2 TD, long of 25 vs. Idaho State
2011: 21 receptions, 177 yards, 2 TDs, long of 30 vs. Ohio State (TD)
2010: 15 receptions, 148 yards, 0 TDs, long of 31 vs. Idaho
2009: 13 receptions, 90 yards, 1 TD, long of 24 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Passing: Career: 4-for-7, 46 yds, 3 TDs, long of 26 vs. Colorado (2010)
2012: 1-for-1, 11 yards, 0 TDs; 2011: 0-for-2, 0 yds, 0 TDs; 2010: 3-for-4, 35 yds, 3 TDs

Punt Returns: Career: 11 returns, 117 yards, 0 TD, 10.6 average, long of 33 vs. ULL
2012: 1 return, -1 yard, 0 TD, -1.0 average, long of -1 vs. Wisconsin
2011: 1 return, 19 yards, 0 TD, 19.0 average, long of 19 vs. Washington
2010: 5 returns, 26 yards, 0 TDs, 18.4 average, long of 15 vs. Colorado
2009: 4 returns, 73 yards, 0 TD, 18.3 average, long of 33 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Single-Game Highs:  
  • Rushes-38 at Iowa (2011)*
  • Rushing Yards-170 at Wyoming (2011)
  • Rushing Touchdowns-2 five times (most recently vs. Idaho State, 2012)
  • Receptions-5 twice (Minnesota, Northwestern in 2011)
  • Receiving Yards-59 yards vs. Ohio State (2011)
  • Receiving Touchdowns-1 five times (most recently vs. Georgia, 2013 Cap One Bowl)
  • Total Touchdowns-3 vs. Michigan State (2011)
  • Passing Yards-30 vs. Colorado (2010)
  • Passing Touchdowns-2 vs. Colorado (2010)
  • Total Offense-178 yards vs. Ohio State (2011)
*school record

VIDEO on Rex Burkhead: Mike Mayock talks Rex Burkhead at NFL Combine NFL Combine Video NFL Combine Stats turn down the volumn - college college college college college  college college Team Jack Outreach BTN Team Jack Outreach ESPN Play 60 Event Outreach video High School High School High School High School High School HS Recruit Overview


  1. Review of Rex Burkhead was based on the following evaluations: film-32 college games; film-8 high school games; interviews-8 college coaches and NFL Scouts; verified information collection from 4 official Nebraska websites

  2. Went back through my 10 pages of notes and based on email from readers I updated nicknames provided by coaches and teammates of Burkhead. Next week I will be turning my attention to the top underrated prospects at the wide receiver position

  3. Mike Mayock comments on Rex Burkhead testing off the charts at the NFL Combine