For three years, safety Terrell Burgess saw very limited action on the football field for the University of Utah. Apart from playing time for the special teams unit, Burgess' experience seeing the field as a safety came with just three starts in those three seasons.
But then it was Burgess' senior season and he found himself with one chance to prove his worth and future in the sport. He earned the starting role at strong safety, playing alongside free safety Julian Blackmon and cornerback Jaylon Johnson, two bonafide NFL players.
He finished the season with 81 tackles — 7.5 for loss — one interception and five pass breakups en route to earning all-Pac-12 honorable mention recognition as a senior. Those numbers, combined with the position he played (albeit for a year), proves how versatile Burgess is, a massive commodity in today's league.
A talented athlete after running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash with 20 reps in the bench press, 33.5-inch vertical and 122-inch broad jump, Burgess shows the sort of explosiveness coveted for a safety who can also play down in the nickel.
He parlayed all of that into a third round selection in the NFL draft, taken with the 104th overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams. And now it's official as as Burgess just signed his four-year rookie contract with the Rams.
The deal is worth $4.5 million over four years with an $832,296 signing bonus and guaranteed.
Burgess emerged this past season as sort of a hybrid safety for Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley, showcasing his ability to play the backend of the defense while also coming in run support. That's why he was so coveted by NFL GM's and talent evaluators due to his ability to defend at the nickel position and take on slot receivers and tight ends.
But one of Burgess' best traits, and why the Rams are so high on him, is his attention to detail. Lauded by scouts, coaches and teammates for his preparation, Burgess reads play development very well and has the field awareness of a professional despite just 13 career starts, 14 of which came at safety and the other three at cornerback.
This is an absolute steal for the Rams as Burgess is going to be an impact player in the league.
Although he only has one year of starting experience, he was behind two former Utes who are now in the NFL so it's not as if he wasn't a good player. As a safety, Burgess has the ability to survey centerfield and be that ball-hawking safety that teams love. More importantly, he is versatile and has the ability to drop down into coverage and play the slot — which is essential in today's spread offense NFL.
This is also a perfect fit for the Rams, who they are looking to build depth in the secondary. With starting cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill and safeties John Johnson III and Taylor Rapp already entrenched, the Rams are desperate to employ some versatility in their new defense with coordinator Bradon Staley.
And Burgess fits that bill.
Despite being a little small for safeties, measuring in at 5-foot-11 and weighing 202-pounds, Burgess is arguably best suited as a nickel cornerback but could provide safety help in a pinch. He will compete for playing time with cornerback David Long Jr. for the slot role, and with Nick Scott and Jake Gervase for the third safety role.
It's expected that due to his ability to play multiple roles, Burgess will more than likely see the field quite a bit as a rookie and moving forward with his career.
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