Would 50 receptions be a fair season projection total for Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton?
Trey Burton is a complete wild card in the Chicago Bears offense. As a depth player, he was a bit of an unknown and a project for the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the Chicago Bears invested some real money into Burton, signifying their interest of him in this offense.
Mike Clay of ESPN.com sees him being a fairly significant part of the offense as well. The fantasy football projections guy has Burton hauling in 50 passes in his first season with Mitchell Trubisky. Is this a fair assessment?
What is funny is that his 2018 projection is somewhat close to the career numbers of Burton so far. In four seasons Burton has 63 receptions for 629 yards to his name. A 50 catch season would be a big upgrade.
Below are the most comparable starts to a career at tight end to Burton in terms of production.
Dion Sims first four seasons produced more than Trey Burton. This list definitely has to give some uneasiness about the historical probability of what the Chicago Bears want out of Trey Burton. Not a single tight end on that list had one 50 reception season.
Donald Lee was the closest with a 48 reception season that produced 575 yards. Still, so far in NFL history if a tight end has not turned into a producer in his first four seasons, it just is not going to happen.
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Of course, Burton could be the exception, not the rule. His story is certainly different than most. Coming from being a quarterback to an overall weapon to a third tight end on the Philadelphia Eagles is an interesting path.
Not many take it and there are not many names to compare the story too. On top of that, none of these tight ends were handed the type of money that Trey Burton was to be a vital part of the offense. The Bears have more plans for Burton than Dion Sims, who is featured on the list. It is a bit of a rare occasion.
Still, one thing I have pointed out all along is that Burton should hold a lot of his value pre-snap. The variety of formations in which he can line up in and alignments in which he can hold is what his value is.
He can stand in the backfield, on the line, in the slot or out wide. On top of that, he can motion from one to the other. A lot of his value is going to come pre-snap. He is going to help Mitchell Trubisky recognize coverages and keep defenses honest.
With that said, it may not come with the production post-snap. Allen Robinson is the big money receiver, even if Burton is getting potentially overpaid. The team also invested in Anthony Miller this offseason, who should see an equal number of short passing game touches. Adam Shaheen should take some big red zone chances away in year two and Tarik Cohen has the coaching staff giddy about how to use him in the passing game.
Put me down as a person who is selling on big statistics from Burton, but buying into his actual on-field value.