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Amari Burney looking forward to 'surreal' opportunity to earn roster spot alongside his cousin

While Amari Burney is still house hunting, he can always kick it with his cousin Brandon Facyson.

Burney, the Raiders' sixth-round pick from Florida, now has the opportunity to play alongside Facyson, who signed back with the team this offseason after a season with the Colts.

"[I]t was surreal for the Raiders to call me and then the feeling I had was I was shaking," Burney said after being drafted. "I didn't want to cry, but I think like two tears dropped from my eyes a little bit. I was just really shaking, I couldn't really speak when we were on the phone talking. And it just really feels surreal that I get to play with my cousin, he plays for the Raiders right now. My mom was talking about it a long time ago. She was like, 'What if the Raiders call you and then you get to reunite with your cousin for the first time?' So, this feeling is great right now."

Burney was formerly a defensive back like his cousin, before converting over to linebacker.

"Brandon just called me, he called me a few seconds ago," Burney said. "We just chatted a little bit. He's got an apartment, so I told him, 'Give me a room in the apartment.' I'm not trying to buy my own right now."

After transitioning to linebacker full-time, Burney enjoyed the most successful season of his college career in 2022. He started all 13 games, while setting career highs in solo tackles (41), tackles for loss (nine), sacks (four), interceptions (two) and pass deflections (four). He believes his previous experience as defensive back will benefit him as an NFL linebacker, with speed and athleticism jumping off his college tape as a Gator.

"I can be very effective." Burney said. "I feel like when I'm in coverage you don't have to double the man that I'm guarding, so you can use the safety to be a rat or something like that. ... I used to play receiver, so I don't drop too many interceptions."

The Silver and Black got a good look at the linebacker in Allegiant Stadium during the Las Vegas Bowl and at his Pro Day in Gainesville, Florida.

"We thought he's done a really good job over his career developing as a linebacker," Raiders General Manager Dave Ziegler said following the draft.

"He does also have that coverage ability that you kind of see that safety background. ... One of the things we look at when we're watching linebackers at the pro level or college level is their ability to close space and zone because that's really what they're asked to do more than anything else is drop into zone and close space, and he could do that. Also had a couple good plays playing tight ends and things like that down the seam. I think he's a versatile guy that's still growing."

With the 203rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders selected linebacker Amari Burney.

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