We’re 53 days away from the Carolina Panthers 2021 season opener, so that means today’s countdown piece is devoted to edge rusher Brian Burns.
Yesterday we wrote about linebacker Shaq Thompson, an example of a player in which a Pro Football Focus grade doesn’t always paint the full picture of that player’s value to his team.
One player that the PFF analysts agree had an excellent season? Brian Burns, who earned PFF’s fifth best pass rushing grade in 2020. Burns’ 86.9 grade was lower than only Khalil Mack (Bears), T.J. Watt (Steelers), Joey Bosa (Chargers) and Myles Garrett (Browns).
According to PFF, Burns’ 76.8 overall defensive grade was 13th best among edge rushers in 2020.
If we can extend a tiny inference from those numbers, one could argue that Burns has earned a seat at the elite pass rusher’s table. Or it may be more fair to say that we need to see another season of that kind of work from Burns to put him in that class.
Another great season could happen after the Panthers added defensive talent in the offseason in pass rusher Haason Reddick, linebacker Denzel Perryman and rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn.
In fact, the Panthers are already hyping up the impending “sack competition” between Burns and new teammate Haason Reddick. We’re all allowed to get a little excited, no?
Burns was taken 16th overall in the 2019 draft out of Florida State. He was previously a highly-touted five-star recruit out of American Heritage high school in Plantation, Fla.
Burns bolted out of Tallahassee after his junior season, already one of the most sought after NFL prospects at the time for his position. It’s hard to imagine him staying after both head coach Jimbo Fisher and former starting quarterback Deondre Francois had both skipped town.
Since joining the Panthers in 2019, Burns has solidified himself as a force on the defensive line.
Fun Fact: Panthers DE Brian Burns has the most sacks among top Defensive Ends in the 2019 draft— Joe (@ChargePanthers) July 19, 2021
The tweet above is correct, although San Francisco’s 2019 top draft pick, Nick Bosa, played just two games in 2020 before tearing his ACL. Burns currently has 16.5 career sacks, a half a sack better than fellow 2019 draft pick Montez Sweat of the Washington Football Team.
Let us know in the comments what kind of season you think Burns will have this year. Will he outperform the likes of Bosa and Sweat? Will he beat his 2020 sack high of 9.0?