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Could College Basketball Sensation Join the NFL?

D.J. Burns has helped power NC State into the Final Four, but the college basketball sensation could have a future in the NFL.
D.J. Burns NFL

March Madness always produces some great storylines, and none are bigger than D.J. Burns and his potential rise to the NFL. Yes, that is an amazing pun and no, that’s not a typo. Despite making a name for himself in the college basketball world, some believe the NC State product could go pro in another sport.

Officially listed at 6′-9″ and 275 pounds, D.J. Burns looks more like an NFL offensive tackle than a basketball player. Former NFL scout Jim Nagy said as much on Twitter, posting that his quick feet would make him an intriguing tackle prospect. Nagy wasn’t alone with these thoughts, as multiple decision-makers across the league are supposedly interested in what he can do at the next level.

D.J. Burns Drawing Interest From Multiple NFL Teams

Nagy might’ve tweeted this on April 1st, but the report is no joke. The average offensive tackle measures in at around 6′-4″ and 300 pounds, and an NFL conditioning program should get Burns up to that playing weight. Anyone who’s able to play basketball at this size is bound to be a gifted athlete, and the NC State product could be the next great player to transition from basketball to football.

D.J. Burns probably won’t hear his name in the NFL Draft, but he could earn a decent contract as an undrafted free agent if he decides to try his luck in a different sport. Players like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham have successfully transitioned from basketball to football, although those three all played tight end. The closest offensive line comparison to Burns is Stephen Neal, a former wrestler who became a three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots.

The league is short on starting-caliber tackles, and D.J. Burns has the raw athletic potential to eventually start for an NFL team. Somebody is going to try and sign him, and these five teams make the most sense.

Possible Fits

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints desperately need starting tackles. With Trevor Penning ineffective and Ryan Ramczyk injured, this team must find two starting-caliber players in the next few months. While the team will probably use their first-round pick on a tackle, they could add D.J. Burns as an undrafted free agent following the 2024 NFL Draft. Chances are, Burns won’t be able to contribute in 2024, but he could be a cost-effective option in 2025 for the cash-strapped organization.

New England Patriots

Two decades ago, the Patriots turned an inexperienced Stephen Neal into a featured part of the offensive line. Now, they could try to do the same thing with D.J. Burns. Current head coach Jerod Mayo spent a few years playing with Neal, so he should have a decent idea of whether a player can make such a transition.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs suddenly have a glaring need at wide receiver, so they won’t be able to use all of their $26.4 million in cap space on an offensive tackle. This team will always be competitive as long as Patrick Mahomes is under center, but it’s not good that the roster has weaknesses at receiver, offensive line, and cornerback. D.J. Burns could be a potential long-term solution at tackle as the reigning NFL champions go after their third Lombardi Trophy in as many years.

Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens lost three starters on the offensive line, and they won’t be able to replace them all in one offseason. While they might be able to find a passable short-term replacement for right tackle Morgan Moses, D.J. Burns could be the long-term answer for this NFL squad. The Ravens excel at developing offensive line talent, and the NC State product has a considerably higher ceiling than your average undrafted free agent.

Los Angeles Chargers

Jim Harbaugh wants to build his team around strong play in the trenches, and D.J. Burns can bring that ability to the NFL. The college basketball star is quick on his feet and has the potential to be the long-term right tackle. Pairing him with Rashawn Slater on the left side could give Los Angeles their starting tackle duo for the next decade.

Main Photo: Tim Heitman – USA Today Sports


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