The Carolina Panthers selected Florida State defensive end Brian Burns with their 16th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, and that pick has been well received across the sporting world. Most importantly, nearly 90 percent of our readership on Cat Scratch Reader graded the pick a B or higher. Here is a round up of some of the national outlet grades:
CBS Sports: B+
This is one of the guys when you look at him you see speed, speed and more speed. The Panthers had all kinds of problems rushing the passer last year and Julius Peppers retired, so this makes sense. Good pick for the Panthers. I really like this pick.
Pliability and burst are vital for edge rushing, and edge rushing is vital in Carolina’s true 4-3 zone-based scheme. Burns, lanky and explosive, fits the profile. The Panthers are set—for now—at right end, with underappreciated star Mario Addison (though he’ll be 32 and is a free agent in 2020). In the meantime, Burns can split time with the recently acquired Bruce Irvin at the left edge spot that opened up when Julius Peppers retired. Size and playing strengths are a concern with Burns; don’t be surprised if he plays only in obvious passing situations as a rookie.
SB Nation: “Just Right”
Too low, just right, or too high? Just right. The Panthers needed help both on the defensive line and in edge rushing. Burns is a speedy edge rusher — he had 24 sacks in three years. Top-20 prospect and a well-addressed need? Success, even if he has plenty to prove in run defense.
USA Today: B
The Panthers had plenty of needs to address and decided to go with the best player left on the board. Brian Burn is a lanky pass rusher with the kind of explosiveness and agility we see in all of the NFL’s elite pass rushers. He won’t make an impact in the run game, but who cares? Today’s NFL is all about passing and defending the pass, and Burns will help with the latter.
The Panthers badly needed an infusion of youth and talent on their defensive line, and they get both with Burns. The former Florida State star is one of my favorite players in this draft—I ranked him no. 7 on my board thanks to an explosive first step, incredible flexibility, and a burgeoning repertoire of pass-rush moves. The former Seminole can stress the edge with pure speed but knows how to use his hands and a nice spin move to counter back to the inside. He lacks mass—he played in the 230-pound range at Florida State before bulking up to 249 pounds for the combine—but if he can keep that weight on (and maybe even add a little more) to help him rush with power and take on blocks, he’s got tremendous upside as an every-down edge defender. Burns isn’t a perfect prospect, and his lack of power could keep him off the field on base downs. But with rare athleticism and extraordinary flexibility, he comes into the league with infinite upside. The Panthers get great value at this spot.
I slotted Brian Burns as high as No. 8 in my mock draft at one point. I thought that was a bit too high for them, but the 16th-overall selection provides good value for the Seminole. The Panthers are moving to a 3-4 defense, and they needed to select one of the talented edge rushers. They certainly got one in Burns. He has explosive ability and high-character marks, as he was a captain at Florida State. This is the right move by the Panthers, though Andre Dillard could be argued for at this juncture.
As you can see, everyone at least thinks it was a good pick, if not a great one. My personal opinion is that Burns has one of the highest floors in the draft, and with some technique refinement, added bulk, and coaching could explode many predicted ceilings as well. his pure athletic traits are just too good to ignore, and he will almost certainly see a lot of work early as Ron Rivera likes to rotate his defensive linemen. I can see him carving a very nice spot for himself next season in hybrid or odd personnel looks, and he’ll be at his best stunting from a wide split back to the inside. As he adds bulk and knowledge, and hopefully better play in the run game, he could be a full time option.