I fully expect Treylon Burks to be a very good player for the Tennessee Titans and I think he will make a big impact as a rookie.
Having said that, everything about the Tennessee Titans’ coaching and philosophy points to Burks being slowly worked into the play-calling rather than playing every snap as a rookie.
I have already talked about Mike Vrabel’s desire to slow play all rookies extensively, but a great example is that Tajae Sharpe played 20 more snaps than A.J. Brown during the first month of Brown’s career.
Was that because Brown wasn’t as explosive as he is today? Far from it, Brown actually had 223 receiving yards in those first four games compared to just 94 receiving yards for Sharpe.
So even if Treylon Burks hit the ground running at full speed, there is no guarantee that he would be getting more snaps than someone like Nick Westbrook-Ikhine as the WR2.
The Tennessee Titans’ pass-catching options
Setting aside the fact that Vrabel tends to let rookies work their way into the lineup instead of throwing them out there from day one, there are other issues that might limit playing time for Burks.
Let’s say that Burks and NWI share the WR2 role and they get an equal number of snaps to start the season. That doesn’t mean that both will be on the field for passing plays with three receivers.
What I mean by that, is that rookie WR Kyle Philips looks like he is destined to be a very good slot receiver in the mold of Adam Humphries, Wes Welker, Hunter Renfrow, Cole Beasley, etc. If that is the case, then even on clear passing downs one of those receivers playing the Z-receiver role is going to spend 50% of those snaps on the sideline while Robert Woods and Kyle Philips play the “X” and in the slot.
Then you have to contend with a pair of tight ends that sound like they may be the best combination the team has had since Jonnu Smith and Delanie Walker shared the field together. If Austin Hooper and Chig Okonkwo continue to get better and better, then the Tennessee Titans are going to use a lot of two tight end sets on offense, which will further limit the chances for Burks.
Another wildcard in all of this is Tory Carter. If you didn’t watch Carter last season for the Titans, you should go back and do so because watching the UDFA from LSU line up and fullback and blow-up linebackers was one of the rare highlights on offense last year.
He should get plenty of reps this season, which could also take some snaps away from the wide receiver group.
The point of this is to say that Treylon Burks has the potential to be a star when you look at his outstanding college production and how he should fit in the Tennessee Titans offense. However, he may not show out in preseason games and he may have an efficient but quiet start to his NFL career.
If that happens, don’t panic. Burks isn’t ducking practices or getting shade thrown at him by the coaching staff, in fact, they have gone out of their way to talk about how well he is doing with everything that isn’t hampered by his asthma.
Even with COVID restricting college football during his sophomore year, Burks finished his final two seasons playing in 21 of 22 games including playing 17 games against SEC opponents, one against Texas, and one against Penn State.
No receiver in the NCAA faced more difficult challenges week in and week out than Burks, and he finished those two years with a combined 1,924 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns.
Asthma isn’t something new that he is dealing with, it is just new that Titans fans know about it. His collegiate resume speaks for itself and once he is able to get on the field and prove that, expectations about him will shoot through the roof. Remember, be patient, and don’t panic if he doesn’t become a Hall of Famer from day one.