The Fiery Edge Rusher from FSU

After fifteen rounds of excitement, Brian Burns, a highly regarded edge rusher in the 2019 draft class, was selected sixteenth overall by the Carolina Panthers. Being a popular name among draft prospects, Burns was immediately congratulated by some of his new teammates on social media. As one of the newest additions to a front that suffered the departures of two Carolina defensive legends, Burns finds himself in a prime position to prove that he’s worth a first round pick.

Early College Career

According to, Burns began his college campaign as a rotational player who saw the field at linebacker and defensive end in all thirteen games in 2016. He finished the year as the freshman national sack leader with nine and a half of the Seminole’s fifty-one sacks. Having solidified his name in Seminole history for the accomplishment, Burns was named a Freshman All-American honors recipient from FWAA, ESPN, and USA Today. Burns became a key part of the FSU defense:

The young talent was promoted to starting defensive end at the beginning of his sophomore year. Though he improved his number of tackles from twenty-four to forty-eight, opposing teams were gunning for him and his sack total dipped down to four and a half on the year. However, Burns’ special teams prowess began to emerge as he nudged two blocked punts and two blocked kicks in 2017. Our young Spidey fan had himself a solid sophomore year:

Final Year in College

In one last go as a starter for the Seminoles, Burns had the best year of his career. He was credited with fifty-two tackles, ten of which were sacks. He ended his time with the Seminoles as fifth all time in sacks in FSU history. As a team captain, defensive MVP, team MVP, first team All-ACC, fourth team All-American, and a nationally ranked player in just about every defensive line category across the board, Burns finished his college football career as a true leader with a promising future in the NFL:

Being Drafted by the Panthers

Burns made a good first impression during his introductory press conference:

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Judging by his welcoming mannerisms and professional appearance he seems like a humble person who can get along with other people easily. The content of his message also revealed some interesting food for thought.
First, the former Seminole was quick to name Mario Addison, Luke Kuechly, Bruce Irvin, and Julius Peppers as players he is eager to learn from. He also mentioned his brother, former Panther Stanley McClover, as someone he could learn from. The early chemistry development will be important for him as he overcomes the learning curve and grows into his role on defense.
Second, Burns admitted that FSU did uncharacteristically poor during his last two seasons, though that didn’t affect his effort. In that regard, he’s already on the same page with the Panthers mentally as they are also coming off a disappointing season. It’ll be interesting to see if things like getting fewer reps as a rookie or lack of effort from his new teammates will affect his motivation.
Lastly, his confidence in maintaining his speed while putting on weight should be reassuring. After all, the Panthers did go into the off-season looking for quicker players. If he does maintain his speed while also increasing his weight he’ll be wearing a Panther logo on his helmet for a long time.

Improvement for the Panthers

According to, Burns is about 10-20 pounds below most defensive ends currently on the Panthers’ roster. He matches Bruce Irvin and outweighs Marquis Haynes. Burns could get some looks in rotation on first and second down with Irvin. He may also step in on third and fourth down for coverage and speed packages.
According to, the Panthers ranked twenty-eighth in total tackles and twenty-seventh in total sacks. Panthers opponents converted on seventy-three of one hundred and eighty-three third down attempts and ten out of seventeen fourth down attempts. Opponents didn’t respect the Panthers’ ability to stop big plays so Burns will have to bring his show-stopper ability to help improve all of those categories.

Most Interesting Thoughts

The last time the Panthers selected a defensive end in the first round was Julius Peppers in 2002. Burns has already acknowledged Peppers as someone he wants to learn from, but is he truly ready to live up to the standard he has to fulfill in Peppers’ absence?
A lot is expected from him as a player and as a leader. The last two first round draft picks, Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore, are both charismatic players that quickly earned the respect of their teammates and surpassed their football productivity expectations. Will Burns’ charisma and football prowess live up to the hype?
Despite these questions, the future looks bright for Brian Burns and the Carolina Panthers.

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