• Brian Burns: A Polished Edge Rusher in the 2019 NFL Draft

    Brian Burns is considered one of the top EDGE rushers in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft and has a lot of tools that make him an interesting prospect entering the offseason

    Brian Burns, an EDGE prospect out of Florida State, is a smart and polished pass rusher. He has a number of different ways that he can get to the quarterback an make an impact on passing downs. Burns has one of the most versatile arsenals of pass rush moves in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. He will likely be one of the first pass rushers off the board come draft day.

    Burns' first step is good, but not great. Evaluation of his first step is a little difficult due to the fact that, like Josh Sweat last year, he is forced to play out of a variety of stances. His initial burst of the line of scrimmage varies by stance. He is not going to threaten the edge with his first step in the same way that Kentucky prospect Josh Allen does. However, Burns appears to have enough explosiveness out of his stance to be effective at the next level, even if it is not likely to be the strongest aspect of his game.

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    Like fellow EDGE prospect Jachai Polite, he does an excellent job of hand fighting along his arc and using his long 6'5 frame to keep the offensive tackle away from his body and maintain momentum around his arc. He does a good job of chopping and keeping the offensive tackle from getting his hands in position to throw him off his path.

    In addition to his hand-fighting and outside rush moves, Burns has some really nice inside counters that help keep the offensive tack honest. These counters are often Brian Burns' most effective path to the quarterback. He has also shown the ability to execute them with consistent success.

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    Burns always seems to be going into his pass rushes with a plan of attack. He is excellent at stringing his pass rush moves together to manipulate offensive tackles. He plays smart when rushing the quarterback and has a good understanding of how to win his match-ups with the tools that he has available to him.

    When Burns recognizes that his plan of attack failed and he has been beaten, he has a knack for getting into the passing lane, getting his hands up, and knocking down passes with well-timed jumps. It is good to see a player that does not give up on the play. It is also refreshing to see that he knows how to make an impact, even when he is seemingly out of the play.

    One of the primary concerns about Burns' game is his size. He plays at 6'5 and about 235 pounds. That is an incredibly lean frame. Offensive lineman will likely muscle him around in the NFL. He is probably going to have to add some weight to see every down snaps at the NFL level.

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    Despite his lean frame, Burns plays far more physically than you might expect. He shows consistent effort and good leverage in the run game.  Burns needs to improve his ability to shed blockers, something that will likely get easier with added muscle. He also needs to get better about processing run plays. Burns finds himself out of position too often and does not have the necessary strength to make up for it.

    Similarly, Burns does not show much power in his rush. He is strictly a finesse rusher at this point in his development. This is obviously disappointing for a 6'5 EDGE rusher. However, he excels enough with his pass rush moves that it has not been a significant hindrance for him thus far.

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    A solid, wrap-up tackler, Burns will not let the ball carrier get away once he gets a hand on him. He has a long frame with long arms and has a very impressive tackle radius. This aids him in overcoming his obvious deficiencies against the run.

    Another concern for Burns may be his conditioning. He seems to have lulls in his explosiveness over the course of an entire game. I have seen enough to believe that this is not effort related. It makes me wonder whether he simply does not have the stamina to play every down at the NFL level. The need to add weight will probably compound the issue. This will likely not help his ability to retain explosiveness over long drives or over the course of a game.

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    IDP Fantasy Implications

    Burns' future as a fantasy IDP prospect is going to be linked very closely to his weigh-in at the combine.  His ability to maintain an above average athletic profile while getting his weight up to a more desirable number will also have an impact. If he can do that, Burns certainly appears to be one of the top pass rushers in this draft class. He will have a lot going for him in terms of IDP.

    Burns may start off as a rotational pass rusher. He should see playing time in this area sooner rather than later. Burns already has a well-developed arsenal of moves and counters. He understands how to go into each snap with a plan of attack.

    If Burns can get stronger before the start of the NFL season, he should be able to contribute in run defense due to his high effort and long arms. He is definitely going to need some work in learning how to better defend against the run. Burns needs to learn how to shed blockers and position himself to force plays to the inside and make tackles. He does seem capable of learning, however.

    If he sees significant pass rushing snaps, he should also be able to contribute a few pass deflections over the course of the year as well. You obviously do not want to rely on those. Though they are a nice little bonus for a player that may be sack dependent early in his career.

    Previous Profiles:

    Josh Allen - EDGE - Kentucky

    Jachai Polite - EDGE - Florida

    Thanks for checking out the article everyone. I'll have articles coming to all offseason to prepare you for the incoming crop of IDP players in the 2019 NFL Draft. Follow me on twitter @Lanny1925 and check out the podcast with Jon, Nate, and I.


    Sean Lanigan

    Co-host of the IDP Guys and resident offensive aficionado.

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