2017 NFL Draft

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Ben Burney

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 202 | College: Colorado
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The son of Washington Redskins defensive line coach Jacob Burney (re-joining former long-time Broncos boss Mike Shanahan), this Colorado defensive back was a bit under the radar after missing the 2008 season due to injury. Now scouts are very interested in acquiring his services.

Burney stayed in-state to play for the Buffaloes, earning playing time in 11 games as a true freshman, making six tackles and intercepting a pass against New Mexico State. He took part in all 12 games in 2006, getting two starts at free safety and racking up 23 stops, one for loss.

Moving to corner for his junior year, he started every game, made 55 tackles and broke up eight passes. He missed the entire 2008 season due to surgeries on both shoulders and wrists, but came back with a vengeance in '09: 73 tackles, three for loss, sack, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), four pass breakups, two forced fumbles.

With safety size and corner speed, scouts really started buzzing about Burney after his exceptional pro day (4.39-second 40-yard dash, 39-inch vertical) showed off his athleticism. If doctors sign off on his shoulders, wrists and knee (high school injury), then this son of a coach could find himself one of the draft's surprise picks as a versatile defensive back (zone corner/free safety) and special teams contributor.


Read & React: Instinctual player, good route recognition in coverage to jump the play or dislodge the ball with a big hit. Also reacts quickly; immediately accelerates to balls thrown in front of him. Does not give up on plays run away from him.

Man Coverage: Has versatility to line up in the slot, can flip his hips to turn and run when playing off. Uses long arms to press effectively, though he will guess wrong on first move, leaving himself vulnerable to crossing his feet. Comes off his man quickly when playing off to take out underneath routes. Sometimes gets washed out or loses his trail when peeking into the backfield.

Zone Coverage: Good awareness in zone, keeps one eye on his receivers' routes and the other in the backfield. Smooth pedal moving back into the centerfielder position. Plants and drives to the ball well, gets there as or just after the ball arrives.

Closing/Recovery: Generally stays low when moving in space, able to change directions easily. Good burst to the receiver when the ball is in the air. Chases plays to the opposite side of the field. Usually takes solid angles to the ball, but will force the play inside when overrunning the play. Takes away the home run gain with speed to the sideline. Has the speed and agility to catch up with receiver if beaten when pressing.

Run Support: Keeps containment, moves well laterally while engaged and sheds block to grab the ballcarrier. Also reacts to the ball well when playing deep; takes a good angle and can adjust to elusive backs. Avoids receiver blocks while keeping an eye in the backfield when coming downhill at free safety.

Tackling: Secure wrap-up tackler in space; has length and upper-body strength to bring down most ballcarriers on his own. Bends knees and breaks down to corral elusive ballcarriers. Gets his helmet on the ball when coming downhill, and brings his hips. Keeps his feet moving into and after contact. Goes through ballcarrier, will plant him into the ground - then tell him about it. Has potential to be a special teams ace.

Intangibles: Plays hard and comes with bad intentions. Good bloodlines; father is an NFL defensive line coach.

2008 Season

Redshirted; he underwent surgery following the Independence Bowl to mend chronic shoulder problems and had additional surgery later in the year. He did not practice in the spring or fall.

2007 Season

Started all 13 games including the Independence Bowl at right cornerback, one of just eight players to start every game for the Buffaloes in 2007. He tied for the team defensive high with 796 snaps play (sitting out just 34), as his improvement was evident from start to finish over the course of the season. He had 55 tackles (37 solo), with four for losses totaling 27 yards, along with eight pass deflections, six third down stops, three touchdown saves, two near-sacks, a tackle for zero and a caused interception. He had a career high eight tackles (four solo) at Arizona State, with seven stops each against Kansas State and Missouri; his six solo stops against the Wildcats was a career high as well, when he had three third down stops. He added three solo tackles on special teams coverage duty. In the bowl game against Alabama, he had two tackles (one solo) and a pass deflection. He shifted to cornerback from safety for spring practice.

2006 Season

Saw action in all 12 games, nine on defense with two starts at free safety (Montana State, Baylor) and in all on special teams. He recorded 23 tackles on the year, including 14 solo and one for a loss, as he was in for 195 snaps from scrimmage. He had a season and career high seven tackles in his two starts, with five solo stops against Baylor and four versus MSU; he also had five tackles against Kansas State. He tied for fourth on the team with five special team points, as he had three tackles (one solo, one inside-the-20), a knockdown block and a first downfield credit to alter a return. He moved to safety from cornerback during two-a-days.

2005 Season

He played in 11 games as a true freshman, including the Champs Sports Bowl (no starts), mostly on special teams and in four on defense at cornerback. His first action came in the second game of the year against New Mexico State, but he missed the next game at Miami due to illness before seeing action the remainder of the way. In 43 snaps from scrimmage, he had six tackles (four solo), including two unassisted stops in the NMSU game when he made his first career interception. His other four tackles all came at Texas in the regular season match-up. On special teams duty, he recorded two knockdown blocks on returns.

Injury Report

2008: Missed the entire 2008 season due to surgeries on both shoulders and wrists.

Agility Tests

Combine: Did not receive an invitation.

Pro day: 4.39-second 40-yard dash, 39-inch vertical.

High School

An honorable mention all-state (5A) performer by the Denver Post as a senior, when he also earned second-team all-Centennial League accolades at safety. After tearing his ACL and meniscus his junior year, he bounced back strong in 2004 to be named the Comeback Player of the Year, as he also garnered Mullen's Hang Tough Award for the second-straight season. During his senior campaign he posted 126 tackles (62 solo) to rank eighth in the state. Of those stops, 10 were tackles for loss, while he also added two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, one interception, three quarterback pressures and seven pass breakups; he also recovered a blocked field goal. Top games his senior year: in a win over Poudre, he had seven tackles and a fumble recovery that he returned for a 70-yard touchdown; he had five tackles and an interception in a victory over Montbello; and in a win against Smoky Hill, he had nine solo tackles and 15 overall. Under coach Dave Logan, Mullen was 13-1 and won the 5A State Championship his senior year, and was 12-1 his junior year before falling in the state semifinals. An all-around athlete, Burney played basketball and ran track as a freshman and sophomore. He owned personal bests in the 100 (10.7) and 200 (24.0); he also ran the 4x100-meter relay. He was a member of state champion teams in basketball (at Charlotte Country Day as an 11-year old) and track (at Mullen as a sophomore).


Born March 29, 1987 in Tulsa, Okla. Hobbies include drawing, photography, producing music with a beat machine and lifting weights. He also enjoys making digital movies with his family members, and aspires to have a career in film someday. His father (Jacob) has been the defensive line coach for the Denver Broncos since 2002; he was a four-year starter at defensive tackle at Tennessee-Chattanooga and had tryouts with the Detroit Lions in 1981 and 1982, but injuries cut short his potential NFL career. An older brother, Jacob Jr., played defensive tackle at Bucknell, completing his career in 2005. He spends time as a leader for the youth group "Off The Chain," and he also helped refurnish a local Denver church for a community service project. He has lived in nine different states: while living in North Carolina, he helped out with the Special Olympics and taught math and reading to underprivileged children at elementary schools. Active in the Denver chapter of Jack and Jill of America, he was one of 36 African-American males honored nationwide for 2004.


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