The Packers secondary is full of young talent and maybe one of the strengths on the team going forward. However, they will likely lose veteran Casey Hayward to free agency this offseason, marking it a second year in a row there’s been an exodus of experienced talent at the position.
Even though Green Bay will still have a few promising young players in Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, and Ladarius Gunter to go along with longtime starter Sam Shields, they could still use another prospect or two, via the draft, to bring depth and competition to their secondary.
Juston Burris is a player that could be on Green Bay’s radar come draft day. He fits the bill the Packers look for in a defensive back. At 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds, Burris is one of the bigger corners in this draft class, and his physical playing style allows him to excel in man coverage and lock on bigger wide receivers downfield, like he’ll face on a weekly basis in the NFL.
As a key contributor in the Wolfpack’s secondary for all four years of his collegiate career, including three seasons as a starter, Burris registered six interceptions, 24 pass breakups, and 165 tackles. Even more impressively, Burris only allowed one touchdown in 44 targets, and proved to be one of the top cover corners in the entire ACC.
Because he’s a player the Packers could select this spring, I recently reached out to Burris to learn more about his game and what he’s doing to prepare for the NFL Draft this April.
Burris was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions. Here is what Burris had to say about the strengths of his game, his experience at the East-West Shrine game, and how he’d feel about playing in Green Bay.
Juston Burris Q&A
Q. I heard you did a lot of good things down in Florida for the East-West Shrine game. What do you feel you were able to accomplish that week?
Burris: I was able to show a different element to my game that scouts probably did not know I had. During the week we were unable to play press coverage due to the rules of the Shrine game so I had to play off man coverage. In practice, I think I showed my versatility and hopefully answered some questions about my game.
Q. How was the whole East-West Shrine game experience for you? What was your favorite part of the week?
Burris: The Shrine game was just a great experience all around. From the moment I arrived in Tampa it was nothing but nonstop meetings, practices, and functions, but I had a blast. The Shriners hospital was my favorite part of the week. Just the feeling of putting a smile on those kids faces after all they have been through was so memorable for me.
Q. I’m sure you met with plenty of teams down in Florida. How was this experience for you? How do you feel this prepared you for the interviews at the combine?
Burris: The meetings with scouts were definitely a whirlwind. Being pulled in so many different directions having to get through all of your scheduled meetings definitely takes a toll. I think one night I did not get back to my room until around eleven because I met with so many teams. In this process though it is definitely a blessing to have these problems because it means teams are interested so I enjoyed them.
Q. You were a three-year starter for NC State and had an impressive collegiate career. Describe your game for us. What are your strengths as a defensive back? What is something unique you bring to the position?
Burris: My strengths are my ability to play press man, as well as read the quarterback’s three step drop. I am very versatile in that I can play in a press man scheme or play off in a zone scheme and not skip a beat in either. My size gives me the ability to press receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the timing of routes, but I can also break down hill on the ball from an off-man position. I can play many different positions in the secondary as well as contribute on special teams.
Q. Would you consider yourself a ballhawk? Lockdown corner? A guy that can do it all at the position?
Burris: As a corner you have to have confidence and receivers need to know that, and with that said I obviously believe I can do it all. The NFL is a much tougher game, but I have the work ethic and the mindset to become a lockdown ball-hawking corner at the next level.
Q. You check all of the boxes that NFL teams look for in a defensive back. You have size, speed, athleticism, and good ball skills. However, you’re also a very physical defensive back. Do you feel this is the most underrated aspect to your game?
Burris: Being physical is an added advantage for me because I can disrupt receivers in their routes and they will not be able to bully me like they would smaller corners. I try to play with an attitude and aggressiveness and that physicality will help me to win against these bigger receivers. Disrupting a quarterbacks timing is huge and I bring that ability to the table.
Q. Are there any NFL players (past or present) that you study, model your game after, or feel you draw comparisons to?
Burris: I think the biggest one would have to be Richard Sherman. He’s a long corner who can disrupt receivers and completely shut down one side of the field. In college we reviewed film of the Seahawks’ press technique and I try to find little things in his game that I can bring into my own.
Q. There’s a good chance the Green Bay Packers will be looking to the draft this spring to add another talented defensive back to their roster, and we feel you’re a guy that fits well with their system. What could you bring to their defense, if they drafted you?
Burris: First, I think I bring versatility. I can line up all over the secondary and succeed. Wherever the team needs me I am willing to put my hard hat on and go to work. Second, I bring an aggressive mindset and physicality to the field and work ethic to really help my team succeed in any way possible.
Q. How would you feel about playing for a team like the Packers and for a city like Green Bay?
Burris: Rich in tradition, playing for a team where the fans have so much pride and in a city where so much history has passed through that stadium would be a dream come true. Not to mention that after getting my first pick-six doing the famous “Lambeau Leap” would be amazing.
Q. Regardless of who drafts you, what will that moment mean to you when you finally hear your name called and you’re officially in the NFL?
Burris: “A dream come true” are the words that first come to mind. Playing football as a young kid this was the moment you dreamed about and now that it’s so close its very exciting. I just want to stay in the moment and just be appreciative of what God has given me.
Q. Tell us a little more about yourself. How did you first get into playing football and who has been instrumental in helping you reach this point?
Burris: My mother was the first person to sign me up for football and she has been with me every step of the way. I owe a lot of my success to her because she was the first person to show me how to put on my pads and made sure I was at every practice. She’s the reason I am where I am today. She signed me up when I was nine years old for the Green Road Eagles. That first year I started at quarterback though we never threw the ball, and once I got to high school I realized that I only played quarterback because I was fast. The coaches quickly moved me to receiver and defensive back.
Q. Finally, when you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies?
Burris: I’m big movie fan. I love watching movies. In my free time that is usually what I am doing. My two favorite movies would have to be Little Giants or All About the Benjamin’s.
*I would like to thank Juston for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish him the best.