5 receivers the Patriots could have drafted instead of Ja'Lynn Polk

Alabama v Texas A&M
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Jermaine Burton 

Burton looks like an old-school Bengal who is going to relish playing in the AFC North. The 22-year-old was projected to be drafted with the 96th pick, but Cinci gobbled him up with the 80th overall, so they love his competitive spirit. Some “insiders” suggested that Buton's attitude put teams off.

But smaller receivers with a point to prove have a history of succeeding in the NFL, remember Julian Edelman?

The former Calabasas High School student spent the first two years of his college career at Georgia, where he caught 53 passes, racking up 901 receiving yards and catching eight scoring passes. Burton transferred to Alabama as a junior, where he was used more; he caught 79 passes in 26 games.

Burton amassed 1,475 receiving yards with the Crimson Tide and caught 15 touchdowns in his two seasons in Tuscaloosa. Throughout his college career, Burton averaged 18 yards per catch and 12.5 yards per rushing attempt.

Burton had a mixed Combine. His 4.45 40-yard time only ranked in the 69th percentile, but his 10-yard split was in the 74th percentile. The Californian performed better in the jumps, though. His 38.5-inch vertical was in the 84th percentile, and his broad jump ranked in the 98th percentile! 

On tape, Burton looks a lot faster than his Combine performance suggests. The 2021 national champion can run straight past defenders, even when they are playing off, and give themselves plenty of cushion. His speed backs off defenders, so he can always come back to make easier catches, too.

NFL defenders won’t struggle with his raw speed as much as SEC defenders did, but Burton has subtle changes of direction that wrong foot anyone trying to cover him. He primarily lined up outside in 2023, but in 2022 he, played more than 125 snaps as the slot receiver.

Burton is going to be a very interesting piece of the Bengals' offense. If he and Ja’Marr Chase are on the field together, defensive backs will have to take a few steps back.