Oren Burks became the third Vanderbilt linebacker drafted in the last three years when he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers on Friday.
The Packers selected Burks, a versatile three-year defensive starter and multi-year captain, with the 88th overall pick. He also becomes the third Commodore standout in the last five years to be selected in the opening three rounds of the draft, joining linebacker Zach Cunningham (Houston, 2nd round, 2017) and wide receiver Jordan Matthews (Philadelphia, 2nd round, 2014).
Burks joins Cunningham and Stephen Weatherly (Minnesota, 7th round, 2016) as Vanderbilt linebackers selected in the last three drafts.
"I am very excited about the entire process and how it played out. It's been a blessing for sure," Burks said by phone from his hometown of Fairfax Station, Va. "I had a great visit with the Packers and felt really good about the Green Bay organization and coaches, and was really taken by the history of the Packers. I'm just really excited to go to work."
"I'm really happy for Oren and his family," Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason said. "The Packers are getting a football player that can help them in many ways. Oren's a smart, dedicated and versatile player who takes tremendous pride in his performance. Green Bay is getting a team-oriented guy, a great teammate and a solid citizen. I think Oren can enjoy a great career in the NFL."
Burks becomes the seventh Commodore ever selected by Green Bay. Other Commodores drafted by the Packers in the last 20 years are cornerback Casey Hayward in 2012, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer in 2003 and cornerback Fred Vinson in 1999.
The 6-3, 232-pound Burks started his Vanderbilt career in the defensive secondary. After starting seven games as a redshirt freshman safety in 2014, Burks moved to outside linebacker for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, then shifted to inside linebacker as a senior. He earned 40 starts in 45 career appearances as a Commodore.
Burks, a two-time defensive captain, finished his career with 136 solo tackles, 237 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions. As a senior, he set a career-high with 82 total tackles, including at least a dozen stops against SEC rivals Florida and Kentucky.
-- Green Bay Packers (@packers) April 28, 2018
Well deserved @BangTimeBurks 💯This talented student-athlete played Safety, OLB & ILB in his career. He did it all...He graduated with honors, played at an extremely high level in the SEC and did it in Nashville👊🏽 Who is up next @ LB University⭐️ That's 💫💫💫 in a row🔥 pic.twitter.com/W4PyBCIjlW
-- Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) April 28, 2018
Following his Vanderbilt career, Burks impressed as a late addition to the South roster at the Reese's Senior Bowl, finishing among the game's leaders with six tackles and a pair of tackles for loss.
Off the field, Burks was a leader on the Vanderbilt campus and among its student-athlete population. He was a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award in 2017, a finalist for the Wooden Citizenship Cup Award as a junior and a member of the 22-member Allstate-AFCA national FBS Good Works Team in 2016. A two-time team representative to Southeastern Conference Media Days, Burks also served as president of the Vanderbilt Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2016.
With Burks' selection, Vanderbilt now awaits the draft status of several other senior standouts, including running backs Ralph Webb and Dallas Rivers, wide receivers Trent Sherfield and Caleb Scott, tight end Nathan Marcus, defensive linemen Jonathan Wynn and Nifae Lealao, linebacker Emmanuel Smith, safeties Ryan White and Arnold Tarpley, cornerback Tre Herndon, placekicker Tommy Openshaw and snapper Scott Sypniewski. Coverage of NFL Draft rounds 4-7 starts Saturday at 11 a.m. CT on NFL Network and ESPN.