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Jermaine Burton

Downfield wideout could be factor in Cincinnati

Offseason training activities are going on, and although they're voluntary, most players attend unless they have a reason not to. With the Cincinnati Bengals, the absences from last year make third-round wideout Jermaine Burton look kind of interesting.

The team's top 3 wideouts from recent years aren't around. Tyler Boyd is in Tennessee. Tee Higgins hasn't signed his franchise tender. Ja'Marr Chase may also be hoping for a new contract.

Chase and Higgins will probably be there eventually, but more reps for Burton seem like a good thing. He'll be vying for at least the No. 3 role, with Trent Irwin or some other youngster (Charlie Jones, Andrei Iosivas) the competition. Selected earlier than those players, he'll get every opportunity to emerge.

Burton didn't put up huge numbers in college; not in two years at Georgia, or the last two at Alabama. He caught just 39-40 passes each of his Alabama years. But he did plenty with those 39 receptions last season, turning them into 798 yards and 8 TDs. That's 20.5 yards per catch.

Over the last 20 years, there have been 33 other wide receivers to average at least 19.5 yards per catch in their final year of college, then go on to be drafted in the first three rounds. (I dropped it to 19.5 to get in another Alabama product, Jameson Williams.) The hit rate on those players looks pretty good.

Twelve of the 33 have had at least one top-12 season (PPR scoring). Four more have at least ranked in the top 20. Sort of looks like a metric the Bengals value on draft day, since two of the previous hits are Chase and Higgins.

COLLEGE WRS AVERAGING 19.5 YARDS PER CATCH (RD 1-3), BEST NFL, 2004-
DraftRdPlayerCollegeAvgBestNoRecTDRk
20051Roddy White, Atl.71-1452-1420.520101151389101
20101Demaryius Thomas, Den.46-1154-825.12013921430141
20201CeeDee Lamb, Dall.62-1327-1521.420231351749141
20141Mike Evans, T.B.69-1394-1220.22016961321123
20141Odell Beckham Jr., NYG59-1152-919.520161011367104
20211JaMarr Chase, Cin.84-1780-2021.22021811455135
20192DK Metcalf, Sea.26-569-521.92020831303107
20041Lee Evans, Buff.75-1545-920.6200682129288
20211Jaylen Waddle, Mia.28-591-421.1202275135688
20093Mike Wallace, Pitt.39-784-720.1201172119389
20151DeVante Parker, Mia.43-855-519.92019721202911
20213Nico Collins, Hou.37-729-719.72023801297812
20193Terry McLaurin, Wash.35-701-1120.02022771191516
20182DJ Chark, Jac.40-874-421.92019731008818
20202Tee Higgins, Cin.59-1167-1419.82022741029719
20143John Brown, Ariz.61-1198-1719.62019721060620
20222George Pickens, Pitt.5-107-021.42023631140530
20161Will Fuller, Hou.62-1258-1420.3202053879832
20151Breshad Perriman, Balt.50-1044-920.9201936645651
20182James Washington, Pitt.74-1549-1420.9201944735352
20093Brandon Tate, N.E.16-376-323.5201024432571
20151Phillip Dorsett, Ind.36-871-1024.2201929397571
20183Tre'Quan Smith, N.O.59-1171-1419.8202034448472
20052Mark Bradley, Chi.23-491-721.3200830380374
20113Vincent Brown, S.D.69-1352-1019.6201341472178
20221Jameson Williams, Det.79-1572-1719.9202324354382
20232Marvin Mims, Den.54-1083-620.1202322377286
20153Sammie Coates, Pitt.34-741-421.8201621435293
20122Stephen Hill, NYJ28-820-529.3201221252397
20213Dyami Brown, Wash.55-1099-820.0202251432133
20152Devin Smith, NYJ33-931-1228.2201591151142
20212Dee Eskridge, Sea.33-768-923.3202110641146
20163Leonte Carroo, Mia.39-809-1020.720182941158

Table is sorted by best finish in PPR leagues; the bottom of the table shows plenty of guys who washed out quickly. Not a given that Burton will be one of the hits. But I like the hit rate on previous wideouts who fared well in that regard in college, and I like the opportunity he either will or might have, to at least be the No. 3 and perhaps higher, depending how things work out with Higgins, in Cincinnati.

--Andy Richardson

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