Ben Burr-Kirven, LB
School: Washington | Conference: PAC 12
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22?
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 230 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: Anthony Hitchens
Ben Burr-Kirven was one of the best linebackers in all of college football this year. He was a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award which is given to the nations best defensive player. Burr-Kirven led the nation in total tackles and is literally present all over the field. His recruiting story is interesting. He was a 3-star prospect with a 4.0 in Stanford territory (he’s from Atherton, California which is between San Jose and San Francisco). Usually David Shaw and Co would have been all over a player like that. Shaw said he didn’t know whether or not Burr-Kirven was a safety or linebacker. Turns out that hesitation cost Stanford one of the best linebackers in the country as Washington swooped in and secured Burr-Kirven’s commitment. He is a 3-down sideline to sideline linebacker than can do just about anything you ask of him on the football field. If his production didn’t convince some that he was one of the top linebackers in this draft his performance at the combine did. He performed very well in all athletic tests and his he was 10 lbs heavier and 2 inches taller he might have one of the most filled out spider charts you have ever seen. He won PAC 12 defensive player of the year in 2018. Metrics aside Burr Kirven’s ability is supplemented by his natural feel and instincts for the position. He is ready to be a starting inside linebacker in the NFL on day one.
- Elite athleticism, speed, for the position with excellent instincts.
- Knows where the ball is going and is rarely fooled. Sometimes he can pre-diagnose a play before the ball is snapped and flies to the gap to make a tackler. Read and react ability on PA, draws is great. Remains disciplined and trusts what he sees. Has innate ability and diagnostic skills at the position and you can see why he was so productive.
- Textbook tackler who is prolific. Has sideline to sideline ability. Has some ummph to his hits and works to the ball with 6 career forced fumbles.
- Moves really well in coverage and can get a lot of depth when he drops back. Looks good reading the QBs eyes and working his way towards the ball. Shows good awareness in passing lanes and hands.
- Considered the heart of the defense with excellent leadership skills and work ethic.
- Undersized for the position. Some think his size with eliminate him from the opportunity to start in the NFL. Short arms lead to some just missed opportunities .
- Functional strength needs to improve so he can get off blocks faster. He can get swallowed up by larger OL if his DL don’t take care of them.
Let’s see his work:
Ben Burr-Kirven is not interested in the Utah RT’s attempt at blocking him pic.twitter.com/CvzUrRr8Az— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) December 1, 2018
Just before this Wazzu-Washington game, I finally watched tape on Ben Burr-Kirven, and man this guy knows how to diagnose a play. Really solid player at inside linebacker. Dude is an impressive player who will easily be in my top 60. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/UWVC0uDqaq— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 24, 2018
Ben Burr-Kirven Zone Drop Drill. #Dawgman #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/uKxSiPx9zA— Dawgman.com (@Dawgman247) March 3, 2019
Ben Burr-Kirven Change of Direction/Backpedal Drill. #Dawgman #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/kuK4TN1shg— Dawgman.com (@Dawgman247) March 3, 2019
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
The concern over Burr-Kirven’s size is valid but is overblown. We have seen linebackers have limited success in the NFL with limited physicality, technique, or athleticism but we haven’t seen many fail because they they were 2 inches too short and 10 lbs too light. I think he is a day one starter at inside linebacker. His skills would be allowed to flourish on a team like the Redskins who have invested heavily in their defensive line. The DL picking up their assignments would allow a player like him to flow relatively freely to the ball and make a lot of the plays he did in college. With the emphasis on athleticism for both inside linebackers in the Redskins 3-4 fans ought to be comforted by his coverage and instincts as well. He does need to continue to hit the weights to develop more strength and that is the one area I would emphasize along with getting off blocks in his pro development. If he gains some weight as a result great, but I really see it as close to a non-issue. Burr-Kirven alongside Rueben Foster would make for one of the more athletic inside linebacker duo’s in the NFL. If the Redskins miss out on some of the top prospects at the position in the first round Burr-Kirven is one heck of a consolation prize.