SALT LAKE CITY — In only one season as a starter at safety, Terrell Burgess made a measurable impact at the University of Utah in its pursuit of a Pac-12 South Division title, even as one of the most underrated players from the defense.
Burgess locked down the strong safety position as one of the key members of the backfield en route to a top 15 passing defense in the country. NFL scouts noticed and Burgess went from a one-time wide receiver his redshirt freshman season to an early-round defensive back prospect in the draft by his senior season.
And on Friday, Burgess’ hard work on the field paid off after he was selected No. 104 overall in the third round to the Los Angeles Rams as part of the 2020 virtual NFL draft.
Burgess, a native of San Marcos, California, is the fourth player selected from the University of Utah in this year’s draft. He joins Jaylon Johnson, Julian Blackmon and Zack Moss, who were drafted ahead of him.
The 6-foot, 202-pound safety is the second defensive player taken by the Rams in this year’s draft, and the fourth player drafted by the team.
Burgess was known among his teammates and coaches at Utah as one of the smartest players on the field. He studied the game and was adept at countering opposing offenses. In his time with the Utes, he finished with 116 total tackles, including 81 his senior season, two forced fumbles and one interception that was returned 29 yards.
“What makes him most dangerous is he can play man coverage versus your slot receivers — what a luxury it was for me to not have to change defensive personnel groups, trusting in him that he could cover that fourth wide receiver” Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said in a video breakdown of Burgess.
“I try my best to learn not just my position, but I know the corner position to the nickel position; I know the safety position, so I try to know everything," Burgess told KSL.com during his senior season. "I know a lot of the D-line stuff, and I know most of the linebacker stuff, so I'm trying to learn everything so then once we get on the field, I know exactly where everybody's going — I can call out different plays that other people are doing."
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein said “teams love his versatility” as a one-time cornerback turned safety. He added Burgess has “good instincts and closing burst” to make him a valuable pick for a team.
Burgess added to his draft stock in this year’s senior bowl where he showed versatility in his pass coverages, including a pass breakup in the red zone. He was also one of nine players from the University of Utah selected to participate in the NFL Combine, where he showcased a 4.46 time on the 40-yard dash and 20 reps of 225 pounds on bench press.
Burgess’ 40-yard dash time was good for 14th best and his bench press performance was good enough for eighth among defensive backs at the NFL Combine.