Great story I read yesterday from Steve Jones from the Courier Journal. I felt it was my obligation to pass it along. Enjoy!
No combine invite, but Burgess training hard Steve Jones, @stevejones_cj
Louisville All-ACC linebacker James Burgess said he was shocked to learn this month that he’d not been invited to this week’s NFL draft scouting combine. But he’s eager to try to prove his professional potential in other ways.
“That came from left field. I don’t know where that came from,” Burgess said of not making the combine. “But I don’t make the list. All I can do is put up good numbers at my pro day. Hopefully a lot of scouts come there and see what I’m capable of doing. I didn’t see (the lack of a combine invitation) coming at all, but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t pout about it.”
Burgess, a native of South Florida, has been back home in the Miami area since early January preparing for the draft with noted trainer Pete Bommarito. He’ll return to Louisville early next month for the Cardinals’ pro day, where he’ll get a chance to go through the same speed and agility testing that is conducted at the combine.
For Burgess to get drafted, he understands he’ll have to find a way to stand out without the benefit of being one of the 332 players, including 38 linebackers, invited to the combine in Indianapolis, where a who’s who of NFL personnel will be observing.
According to NFL.com, of the 256 players drafted in 2015, 42 weren’t invited to the combine (three fourth-round picks, seven fifth-rounders, 16 sixth-rounders and 16 seventh-rounders).
“It only takes one team to like you,” Burgess said. “You’re only going to get drafted by one team.”
Burgess, whose father, James Sr., played for the San Diego Chargers and uncle Willie Middlebrooks was a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos, participated last month in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. He thought he played well in the practices and game, and during the week he talked to representatives from all but a few NFL teams.
Burgess measured at 6-foot, 229 pounds at the Shrine game and believes he could add a few pounds before pro day.
Burgess had 92 tackles, including 9.5 for losses, an interception, two fumble recoveries and four pass breakups in 2015, and he’s rated the No. 19 inside linebacker in the draft class by CBSports.com. He feels he’s capable of playing inside or outside linebacker depending on the formation. No teams have ever mentioned being interested in him as a safety, but “if that’s what they want me to play, I’m an athlete and I’ll get it a try.”
“You can look at the projections online all you want,” Burgess said. “Those are never ever 100 percent accurate. I’ll leave it all in God’s hands and pray about it. All I need is a chance to prove myself. I’ve always been the underdog, so that’s not the problem. As long as I get a chance to prove myself, that’s all I can ask.”
He has been among a group of prospects working with Bommarito for 10-12 hours a day, six days a week on combine and pro day drills, plus positional work and film study.
Last year Bommarito trained Louisville receiver DeVante Parker, who was drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins.
Burgess, whose speed and mobility were always considered some of his best traits in college, feels as though he’s reaching peak condition and ready to show out at his pro day.
He declined to say what has been his best 40-yard dash time during his training, but “I can’t tell you it’s pretty fast.”
He thinks he will be positioned to run even faster at his pro day, but Burgess said of the 40 he’s run already, “scouts wouldn’t be mad with that time, I’ll tell you that.”
“I feel great,” Burgess said. “Pete knows what he’s talking about, and he’s produced a lot of guys with great numbers. I feel more explosive than I ever did coming out of my stance (for the 40). That was my biggest thing to work on coming down here, my takeoff. My takeoff is feeling good, and I feel like I can run a pretty good time. I’m feeling pretty strong. It’s all coming together pretty well.”
Steve Jones can be reached at (502) 582-7176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.