Nov 23, 2013; Fresno, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Isaiah Burse (1) runs for a touchdown against the New Mexico Lobos in the second quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
I want to continue taking more in-depth looks at the newest Denver Broncos players. This time of year is so exciting as young players start to realize their NFL dreams, and we can finally start looking at what the 2014 Broncos roster is going to actually be instead of talking about what it could be.
Today, let’s take an in-depth look at one of the Broncos’ newest wide receivers, former Fresno State and California high school star Isaiah Burse, who has a really interesting football background.
Burse played a little bit of everything in high school, but because he was so talented with the football in his hands, he played quarterback and safety before switching full-time to wide receiver in his collegiate career.
He improved every year he was at Fresno State, climbing from 40 receptions to 57, and all the way up to 100 this past year as Fresno’s clear #2 target and slot receiver/offensive weapon.
Here’s what you need to know about Burse, and what he brings to the Denver Broncos:
Wt: 188 lbs
Bench: 16 reps
2013 Stats and Accolades
2nd-team All-MWC as KR/PR
Hon. Mention All-MWC as WR
All-MWC Academic Team
262 PR yds, 2 TD
2 rush TD
- Improved every year at Fresno St.
- Quickness is top notch
- Fights for the ball, plays bigger than height
- Understands route concepts
- Change of direction
- Playmaking ability
- Versatile offensive/special teams weapon
- Hands catcher
- Willing and capable blocker
- Short-area burst
- Good strength
- Size/speed combo not favorable for outside WR
- Lacks elite 2nd or 3rd gear
- Limited athlete overall compared to other NFL WRs
- Can struggle to separate
How Burse Can Make the Denver Broncos
I am willing to bet that Burse was probably the UDFA the Broncos paid the highest price for. They had targeted him before the draft as a player who could really fit their offense, and Burse knows exactly the role he is coming to play:
“I can come in right away and learn from Wes Welker and possibly be the starting punt returner right from the get-go.” (FresnoBee.com)
And here’s a cool quote from the same article about how he was a coveted prize after the draft.
“Teams were blowing up my agent, saying, ‘We want him, let’s make a deal.’ My agent was negotiating and everything, and Denver was upping them every single time,” Burse said. “That sold me right there. I was, like, ‘Man, they really want me. I’m a Bronco. I want to go to the Broncos.’ My agent agreed. It’s a good spot.”
As noted in the scouting notes above, Burse is a smaller receiver with awesome short-area quickness, making him ideally suited for a slot receiver role. He doesn’t have an elite second or third gear to consistently blow by defenders, but he’s shifty, hard to tackle, and his aggressiveness is something that is really a major positive.
As he stated to the Fresno Bee, I believe that his primary role with the Broncos, at least initially, is going to be as a punt returner. He actually has a lot of the same skills as Wes Welker did coming out of Texas Tech way back in the day as a versatile, shifty playmaker with short area burst and quickness who can return punts/kicks and has huge upside as a lot.
Fresno State used Burse in a ton of different ways the last couple of years, putting his playmaking skills to good use. They would line him up out of the backfield, as a returner, as a slot receiver, edge receiver, and even let him throw a couple of passes as a former high school QB (I have heard he can sling it). His toughness and physical style of play comes from his defensive background in high school.
What the Broncos are getting here is called a steal. I initially thought that it would be really tough for a UDFA to make the roster this year based on the overall depth of it, but I could easily see three of these guys making it, possibly more. One spot that’s wide open is that 6th WR slot that has to be filled by someone who can return kicks and punts. Burse is an instinctive return man with a top notch feel for the sideline, where the pursuit is coming from, and how to create something out of nothing.
With his developmental upside as a slot receiver as well, this is looking like one of the best pickups the Broncos made on draft weekend.