Trey Burton complements Adam Shaheen perfectly


The skill set that Trey Burton brings should complement tight end Adam Shaheen well

Trey Burton was an underused third tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles who did not necessarily have a role. It made his signing questionable to some. Burton was a former quarterback at Florida who converted to tight end while still at college. Still, he was raw in his position and it caused him to go undrafted. After two years as a primary backup, injuries and his progression shot him up the depth chart. He made an impact over the last two seasons and compiled 60 receptions for 575 yards and six touchdowns combined.

How does he fit into a bigger role, and what does the signing of a tight end say about 2017 second round pick, Adam Shaheen?


Burton and Shaheen are going to fit in perfectly together due to the versatility of Trey Burton. He is a former quarterback after all and did throw a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Aside from being a passing threat, he can line up in-line, flexed off of the line, in the slot, out wide, as a halfback and a fullback. Heck, Burton even was an ace special teamer. The Bears are going to find a variety of ways to use him and a variety of ways to get him on the field with Adam Shaheen.

Last season, Mitchell Trubisky was much more successful out “12” personnel compared to the standard “11”. 12 personnel means one running back and two tight ends.

Whether it be throwing to wide receivers or tight ends, Trubisky was better throwing with multiple tight ends on the field.

One of biggest questions surrounding Burton, and why he struggled to get on the field was blocking abilities. He may be more dynamic, but Brent Celek was a much better blocker and outlasted Burton for snaps behind Zach Ertz. Burton is an athlete who is best using his abilities in the passing game.

How to use Trey Burton

The versatility in usage of Burton sets up a variety of options. The team established a base of plays to branch off of the one highlighted below. Burton motions across the line of scrimmage. The defense adjusts. The Eagles then run play action to the heavy side that Burton motioned to. Burton then runs back across the line into clear space for free yards and an easy completion that gets your quarterback going.

What is great about the play is that the team can branch off of it for a variety of other successful options that it keep it relevant. The Bears can run power to the strong side. Burton is not a stud blocker, but a stronger blocker in Adam Shaheen would already be in-line on that side. They can also run a counter. Pulling Burton back across the line of scrimmage may not guarantee a pass. When the entire offensive line and the other tight ends play run, it is easy to get the athlete open in space in the passing game.

The team does not even have to motion Burton pre snap. The play action alone sets Burton up in a one-on-one matchup. This is where he is going to do a lot of his winning.


While that is a proficient way to make life easy for a young quarterback such as Mitchell Trubisky, the most proficient area of Burtons game is his ability to get open and stay consistent in catching curl routes.

He does a really strong job of working back to the football. Watch how he sells the route below upfield to leave space to work back to the quarterback to accept the ball.

In the play below the team essentially motions him out wide. Watch him loop around and find space. He lines up and motions like a tight end, but finds space in zone like a wide receiver.

As you can see these are curl routes but are all run in a different manner. The reliability of his hands and consistency in his ability to find the ball and work to the quarterback makes this a successful option route for Trey Burton. Over the past two seasons, quarterbacks are 16-19 for 164 yards when targeting Burton in this area.

Seperation questions

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When plays are drawn up to isolate Burton, or his job is to find space in coming back to the quarterback, Burton has success. However, working down field and finding separation is not the strongest of assets in the Burton arsenal right now. He is a raw route runner. As shown below, he typically rounds off his routes. His movement becomes predictable.

It is tough to get him the ball down the field.

Contested catches

However, it is worth noting that all five of his touchdowns in 2017 came form ten yards and out. That is because while Burton does not create separation, he catches receptions through traffic.

Burton beat up on the Los Angeles Rams with two touchdowns down the field. He does not create separation in either, but he comes down with game-changing plays in both.

He has strong hands and balance, and that is going to beat most defenders when the ball is in the air.

 How Adam Shaheen fits next to Trey Burton

Last season, when

Zach Miller

ended his season on the IR, the Bears immediately turned to

Daniel Brown

for his role before Adam Shaheen. That is because Miller was the slot, receiving tight end while

Dion Sims

was the in-line blocking tight end. The team had their eyes on improving Shaheen as a blocker, and he progressed in that manner well over his rookie season.

Essentially, with the signing of Trey Burton, they are looking for their Aaron Hernandez to compliment the “baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen.

Burton struggles at blocking while Shaheen showed greatly as a blocker in his rookie season. Burton showed to be efficient in the short passing game over the middle of the field. Shaheen showed promise stretching the seam over the middle.

However, Burton had five touchdowns over ten yards last season, Shaheen had all three of his go for two yards or less. The two mesh together extremely well in terms of strengths and weaknesses. There is no doubt that the Bears had this in mind when going all in on a former third-string tight end in Trey Burton.