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Updated: April 30th, 2011 1:06pm
Vikings' pick at No. 139: Utah cornerback Brandon Burton

Vikings' pick at No. 139: Utah cornerback Brandon Burton

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings wasted no time making their choice with the 139th overall pick in the NFL Draft on Saturday, selecting Utah cornerback Brandon Burton almost immediately after going on the clock.

A junior entry, Burton (5-11 5/8, 190 pounds) was a second-team all-Mountain West Conference selection in his second and final season as a starter at Utah. He completed his career with three interceptions, 18 pass break-ups and 101 tackles (71 solo).

"I'm real technically sound," Burton said in a conference call. "I like press and playing man-to-man. I think I have very good ball skills. I'm a big ball hawk, so I play the ball real well when it's in the air. Some people say I'm a finesse corner. I like to think I'm a finesse (player) and I can get nasty, too, sometimes. "

Cornerback was among the Vikings' most significant needs entering the draft, with Antoine Winfield about to turn 34 and Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook coming off season-ending knee injuries. Their lack of depth was exposed last season, when Asher Allen had to start 11 games and the team also gave significant time to veterans Lito Sheppard and Frank Walker, who probably won't be back.

The Utes played a lot of man on the corners in front of Cover-2, Burton said, so he expects to be comfortable in the Vikings' Tampa-2 scheme.

"It's not really about scheme when you're looking at players right now," defensive backs coach Joe Woods said in comments distributed by the team. "He's just a good overall player. Solid in coverage, willing in run support, and he really just understands what he's doing on the field. That's really what stands out the most."

Burton left a year of eligibility on the table, he said, because the NFL Draft Advisory Board projected him as a second-round pick. Asked if he knows why he fell, Burton said, "I really can't put my finger on it. I'm not exactly sure. The draft is crazy. Sometimes things go awry, and that's how it is. But ... I wouldn't regret anything about coming out or anything like that. The Minnesota Vikings is a great organization and I couldn't be in a better situation."

The son of a doctor mother and an engineer father who spent time in the military, Burton was born in Germany and raised near Houston, where he also was a track-and-field standout, winning a district championship in the 200 meters (21.3 seconds) and qualified for the Junior Olympics.

He redshirted as a freshman in 2007, played in 11 games in 2008 (mostly on special teams) and became a full-time starter in 2009. He entered last season on the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List as one of the nation's top defensive backs and started all 13 games, posting career highs with 51 tackles (34 solo), two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Burton also blocked two kicks, including one to beat BYU in the final seconds of the 2010 regular-season finale.

The vitals

• 40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds.
• 10-yard dash: 1.62 seconds.
• 20-yard dash: 2.65 seconds.
• 20-yard shuttle: 4.07 seconds.
• 3-cone drill: 6.93 seconds.
• Vertical jump: 32 inches.
• Broad jump: 9 feet, 6 inches.
• Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds.
• Arm length: 31½ inches.
• Hand size: 8½ inches.
• Wingspan: 74 1/8 inches.

The tape

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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