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Vikings No. 10 draft pick: WR Stephen Burton, West Texas A&M

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Posted April 30, 2011 @ 8:56 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

It's a long jump from junior college and Division II, but that's the jump that Stephen Burton is attemping to make. He'll be fighting for a spot on a Vikings WR corps that needs bodies and size, so he could have a chance. Burton also has a chance to make the roster as a returner; in college he handled both punts and kickoffs. This is what PFW draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki had to write about Burton in the 2011 Draft Preview book:

Notes: Running back-receiver as a California prep. Spent two years at Long Beach (Calif.) City College, where he posted 39 receptions for 823 yards (21.1-yard average) and nine touchdowns, with 24 carries for 96 yards (4.0) and eight touchdowns in 2008 (nine games). Also returned 23 kickoffs for 551 yards (24.0) and a score. With West Texas in '09, started 7-of-12 games at an outside receiver position and tallied 62-888-2 (14.3) with 2-28 (14.0) on kickoff returns. Played in all 12 games in '10, starting 10 outside, and produced 70-1,021-11 (14.6). Added 10-231-0 (23.1) on kickoff returns and 10-98-0 (9.8) on punt returns.

Positives: Looks the part — is solidly built with a very good size-speed ratio. Has quick hands and feet off the snap to slip the jam. Flashes some savvy to nod and sink his hips to create space. Good body control to adjust — can highpoint the ball and go down for low throws. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder. Strong and competitive after the catch.

Negatives: Has shaky hands and drops more throws than he should — tends to let it into his body, makes concentration lapses and at times fights the ball. Average explosion. Inconsistent route runner — drifts into some routes and is not smooth coming out of cuts. Is not a physical blocker. Production was inflated by playing in an exceptionally pass-happy spread attack in which he was schemed open.

Summary: A big possession receiver who went the junior-college route before spending two years at Division II West Texas A&M, where he posted modest numbers as the No. 2 receiving option. Has potential to be an effective short-to-intermediate receiver but will have to prove he can adjust to the speed of the pro game and separate from man coverage.

NFL projection: Late draftable pick or priority free agent.

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