#16 Brian Burns Edge, Florida State
From a pass-rushing standpoint, Brian Burns ranks towards the top of the list with top draft prospects Nick Bosa and Josh Allen. Burns is the definition of a pass rush specialist. He has the potential to have multiple double-digit sack seasons in the NFL even though his small frame and ability to stop the run are a concern. At Florida State, he was listed at 235 pounds, but later weighed in at about 250 pounds at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, so that’s a step in the right direction. If Burns can convince general managers that he can maintain the weight and play with the same explosiveness, he could sneak into the top 10.
Burns uses his hands effectively to start all of his pass rush moves. He possesses a plethora of inside and outside pass rush moves, which keep offensive linemen off balance. His athleticism and ability to run the hoop help him finish plays with sacks. On the other hand, as good as he is as a pass rusher, he was a bit of a non-factor against the run. This is due to his lack of size and strength. The plays Burns does make against the run are primarily reliant upon his athletic ability. I worry that teams will run the ball right at him and wear him down, weakening his pass rush abilities as the game goes on. The counter to that would be to make him a true pass rush specialist, where he only played in obvious passing situations such as third downs; and that is why he isn’t higher on the list.
Fit with the Raiders
Analyzing Burns’ fit with the Raiders is challenging because he would clearly fill the team’s biggest need as a pass rusher, but it’s hard to see him fit into the current defensive system. As mentioned above, Burns’ biggest flaws are his size and strength, which hinder his abilities as a run defender. Oakland currently runs a 4-3 defense and Burns’ ineffectiveness as a run defender makes him a less than ideal 4-3 defensive end. While the Raiders could use him as a pass rush specialist, it wouldn’t be wise to spend a top five draft selection on a player who will only play a third of the team’s snaps. If somehow Burns is still available at pick 24, the Raiders should absolutely take their chances.
The Panthers ranked 27th with 35 sacks last season and Burns will likely be the best pass rusher on the board at pick 16. While their playing styles are slightly different, the Panthers might have Julius Peppers flash backs when watching Burns’ film. Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley is entering a contract year and Atlanta could use Burns as an insurance policy in case Beasley leaves. Also and as a former defensive coordinator, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn could fall in love with the idea of having the pass rush combination of Beasley, McKinley and Burns for a year. If the Giants end up going with a quarterback or anyone that isn’t an edge rusher with the sixth overall pick, then Burns would make sense at 17. In the last two years, the Giants have lost two edge rushers (Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul), so it’s safe to say they will be looking for one in the draft.