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Carolina Panthers Draft: The Case for Brian Burns

Brian Burns

In this series we will take a look at several options the Carolina Panthers may consider with the 16th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Each candidate will be broken down into three categories: what kind of player they are, how they fit in with Carolina schematically, and the likeliness that they are still on the board at the Panthers pick. Today the case will be made for Florida State EDGE Brian Burns.

Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

Brian Burns got his college career off to a blazing start under head coach Jimbo Fisher in 2016, where he led all freshman nationally in sacks (9.5). After a slight dip in sack production in his sophomore year (4.5), Burns bounced back with a huge Junior season starting all 12 games and recording a career-high 10 sacks.

Burns has sharply risen on draft boards over the past few months, even garnering serious attention as a top ten pick. Although that may be a stretch, his explosiveness and versatility on the edge has to be tantalizing for any team looking to bolster their pass rush.

Best bend in the draft:

Incredibly athletic combine performance:

Burns tends to win with his speed/finesse moves and explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. As you can see above, many have pegged him with elite athleticism and bend that is hard to find in most pass rushers. Such athleticism has great potential to translate well into a 3-4 defense that demands its ends to drop into coverage. A Florida State coach even went as far as comparing Burns to former first-round pick Myles Garrett:


This is high praise for anyone playing the position. How exactly does all of this athleticism translate to the playing field? Take a look below:

Burns has a deadly arsenal of speed and finesse moves, most notably his inside spin move which he cited as his favorite in a recent interview with Brendan Sonnone of Noles 247:

On his approach off the edge:

“How would I describe my approach off the edge? I pretty much do a lot of my moves off of speed. So I mean, I’ve got a lot of ways to win. I feel like I win inside, outside. I feel like I’ve got a lot of counters. And then I really want to work on my speed to power, that’s a big thing I’m working on. My long arms, that’s a thing I’m working on, I feel like that’s why I put on so much weight, to really cope with that. That side of my game.”

Burns has a ton to offer for a team in dire need of a spark plug pass rusher, with the versatility to play comfortably as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The ceiling for greatness is enormously high, but the former Seminole faces shortcomings that could push him to the back half of the first round.

Burns has noticeably struggled against the run and doesn’t possess the same size and power as some of his EDGE counterparts with first-round grades this year. Though not enough of a detriment to raise any red flags, Burns will need to balance his game and add some weight to compete and win consistently against NFL tackles.

BEST TRAIT: Explosiveness and speed

WORST TRAIT: Size and run defense

NFL COMP: Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears


Fit With Carolina

With an anticipated transition to a hybrid defense that will heavily feature 3-4 looks AND an absolute need on the edge, Carolina and Brian Burns make for a perfect fit. The Panthers made it abundantly clear that they are looking for EDGE players who have the ability to play 3-4 outside linebacker when they signed veteran Bruce Irvin in free agency. Burns would slide in very nicely making this schematic transition more smooth than it may be without a young, dynamic pass rusher.

Where Will He Be Drafted?

The worry now is that the future first-round pick is garnering too much momentum heading into the final weeks before the draft and may not be on the board when the Panthers pick at 16. Could this lead to a potential trade-up situation? Possibly. The Panthers were awarded the 100th pick in the draft as compensation for losing All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell in free agency in the 2018 off-season. They may be willing to part ways with this pick in order to jump up in the first round to grab their guy in the 9-13 range. And yes, they’ve shown enough interest to do so:

Another connection: Burns’ older brother, Stanley McClover was selected by Carolina in the seventh round of the 2006 draft. The interest is there on both sides, but will Burns last all the way to the Panthers pick? Marty Hurney better hope so. Burns is my favorite fit for the Carolina Panthers in the 2019 Draft. 

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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