Last night wrapped up the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. For the No. 16 overall pick, the Carolina Panthers picked edge rusher Brian Burns out of Florida State. I think this was the best choice Marty Hurney could’ve made. While protecting franchise quarterback Cam Newton is still a top priority, the pass rush was the biggest blemish in 2018 (and has been for several seasons).
In a class full of promising edge rushers, Burns was one that stood out. Experts may knock on his thin frame, but he proved he could add the pounds by weighing in at 249 lbs. for the NFL Combine (he reportedly played at 235 during the 2018 season). He has also since put on more weight leading up to the draft. Burns not only has speed and flexibility, but he’s explosive and is quick to get off the jump.
Ron Rivera has hinted at a 3-4 defensive scheme for next season. Even better for Rivera is that Burns is capable at playing outside linebacker and end. His versatility and hand placement makes him ideal for the transition. While Burns isn’t not perfect with his hand usage and pass-rush moves, these are things that can easily be coached.
Overall, I think the Panthers got a major steal when Burns fell in the draft.