Jermaine Burton's potential presents risk worth taking for Kansas City Chiefs

Jermaine Burton, a wideout from Alabama, is quite possibly the most controversial prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft.
LSU v Alabama
LSU v Alabama / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton is quite possibly the most controversial prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. While he tallied 8 touchdowns, 798 receiving yards, and nearly 21 yards per reception with 0 drops in his most recent season with the Crimson Tide, off-the-field issues have tanked his draft stock. However, the Kansas City Chiefs are not averse to drafting prospects with "character concerns."

The Chiefs need quality to add talented receivers this offseason to secure their third Super Bowl victory in three years. Burton's talent is undeniable, however, the off-the-field issues may limit his ability to contribute reliably.

So is the juice worth the squeeze? Let's take an in-depth look into his talent, the concerns, and his potential fit with the Chiefs.


Burton's athletic profile is well above average for the position; standing at 6' tall with a 4.45-second 40-time and nearly 10" hands. His quickness and technical ability are what stand out most in his film. Kent Lee Platte, the creator of the Relative Athletic Score, has Burton scored a 9.09 out of 10, ranking him 310th of the 3402 wide receivers he's tracked.

This athleticism shows up on tape, especially when Alabama had him attacking defensive backs in open space. In the Crimson Tide's game against Texas A&M (arguably his best game at Alabama), Burton bullied star defensive back BJ Mayes, attacking him at the top of his routes and creating separation by baiting him into thinking he was going deep, then cutting back/outside. He would finish that game with 9 catches for 197 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.

That said, Burton is by no means a finished product and needs to experience/learn his role in an "NFL style" offense. That means being able to run routes efficiently, catch everything that's thrown at him, and consistently create separation against top-flight defensive backs—all of which would be great indicators of future NFL success.

Off-the-Field Concerns

Burton has two major incidents that have become public knowledge; his frequent transfers and his assault of a female Tennessee fan. Both are mired in controversy and hearsay, so here are the facts.

Burton has transferred to six different schools in the past eight years. The reason for these transfers is unknown, however, his official statements have never indicated that these were for disciplinary reasons. His transfer from Georgia seemingly came out of nowhere, especially considering he was already a starter in his freshman year.

The incident in Tennessee occurred after the Crimson Tide lost to the Volunteers 52-49 on October 15th, 2022. After the loss, Tennessee fans stormed the field, a woman ran in front of Burton, and he could be seen punching her in the face. One week later, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban stated that Burton would not be facing any punishment because Burton felt "scared" when being approached by the fan.

These incidents are not ideal for any prospect, but if Chiefs general manager Brett Veach does his homework, finds out these are isolated incidents and are not indicative of his character, and will not occur during his tenure as a rookie, Veach should not hesitate to pull the trigger.

Fit With Chiefs

It's no secret that the Chiefs roster lacks young, reliable, talented wide receivers. Burton is 22 years old, didn't drop a single pass in 2023, and put up 197 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns against an SEC (Southeastern Conference) opponent. He could immediately make an impact as the Chiefs' main deep threat, while newly acquired wide receiver Hollywood Brown works over the middle of the field, and young Kadarius Toney and Rashee Rice catch everything underneath.

Even though Burton has off-the-field issues, he wouldn't be the first player on the team that Veach has brought in with "character concerns". Defensive ends Frank Clark, Charles Omenihu, and Alex Okafor, linebacker Willie Gay Jr., and many others have all had problems staying out of trouble off of the field.

Recently, Chiefs wideout Rashee Rice was charged for his involvement in a street racing incident. It is clear the Chiefs do not condone this type of behavior, however, their willingness to take chances on "high-risk" players/prospects is much higher than the average NFL team.

The Chiefs' biggest advantage is in the strength of their locker room. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Patrick Mahomes' authority, combined with head coach Andy Reid's leadership, creates an environment where winning takes priority over everything else. Players may still slip up, but the likelihood that it will affect the team's culture is incredibly low.

The Chiefs must draft a receiver with at least one of their top 100 picks. The Chiefs' locker room culture, with Burton's elite traits and route-running nuance, will immediately make an impact on the Chiefs' offense. For the Chiefs to do something no other team has done before, they are going to have to take some risks. If a "3-peat" is truly Veach's top priority, grabbing Burton (even if it's just for 1-2 years) will be essential to turning that dream into their reality.