Countdown to Kickoff: 88 Days
As a Recruit
Hailing from Statesboro, GA, Burden was one of the less-heralded members of Georgia Tech's 2012 recruiting class, which also included 4-star prospects Justin Thomas and Francis Kallon. He was a high school teammate of fellow Georgia Tech signee WR Micheal Summers, and committed late in the recruiting cycle -- shortly before National Signing Day -- over an offer from Florida, along with a few other FBS programs. He's also got football in his blood -- his father Willie was a running back at N.C. State and eventually in the Canadian Football League for the Calgary Stampeders, being named the CFL's most outstanding player in 1975 and later named to the CFL Hall of Fame.
Burden was rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals (5.5) and in the 247Sports Composite (.8221).
On the Flats
Since redshirting his true freshman year (when he was named Scout Team Player of the Year) and sitting out 2013 with a knee injury, Burden has started the last 26 games at center for Georgia Tech, dating back to the beginning of the 2014 season. During that time, he's been one of the most consistent and reliable players on the offensive line, even when surrounded by players that were more experienced than he was. Following the departure of Shaq Mason, Burden was relied upon in 2015 to be one of the leaders on the offensive line, calling out signals and mentoring younger players. Though the offensive line as a whole struggled and Freddie was personally dealing with his father's declining health, he was continually a beacon of consistency and performance.
Burden graduated this spring with a degree in Business Administration and is currently working an internship while considering his options for the fall -- either graduate school or other credit-qualifying work.
NFL Draft Scouting Report
Despite Georgia Tech's offensive line issues in 2015, Burden stands out as a potential NFL prospect going into his senior year. Listed at 6'4", 299 pounds, Burden has a solid frame that will translate well to the next level, particularly at an interior line position. (Burden played guard in high school and could play there as well as center.) In addition, Burden's intelligence, work ethic, and character will go a long way with teams at the next level.
On the field, Burden excels in run blocking and can hold his own at pass blocking, and shows excellent mobility for a man his size (as we've gotten used to seeing from offensive linemen in Paul Johnson's system). The biggest thing Burden will need to work on is straight-up drive blocking, and not just holding defenders steady but forcibly pushing them back. If he can manage that, he should find himself being selected in the 5th-7th rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.
While I can't pick out specific plays to highlight Burden's ability, take a look at the highlights from the past couple of years, specifically in games where Georgia Tech took on elite defensive talent. Notice on the offensive plays, how Burden is effective in pass protection, frequently downfield blocking linebackers and safeties, and has the flexibility to consistently cut block linemen in front of him.