The NFL community has officially entered draft season. Although much can change after the combine and subsequent pro days, the Green Bay Packers should start circling some names to add to the top of their draft board. They would be smart to target an edge rusher with the 12th overall pick. They do own the 30th pick as a fallback as well. This defense has been mediocre far too long and could use an infusion of youth and speed. There will be several intriguing options to consider. Perhaps the best fit for coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense is the long and explosive defensive end from Florida State. The Packers should set their sights on the former Seminole Brian Burns with one of their two first round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Brian Burns Fits With the Green Bay Packers
- School: Florida State University
- Class: Junior
- Age: 20
- Height: 6’5’’
- Weight: 235 lbs
Burns was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. He made an instant impact for Florida State in 2016, leading all freshmen in the country with 9.5 sacks. He added 10.5 tackles for a loss. Burns was subsequently voted Freshman All-American by a variety of outlets.
His sack totals dropped to just 4.5 in 2017 but he almost doubled his tackle total to 48 with 13.5 tackles for a loss. Burns did force three fumbles and block two kicks, so he was still making plays even though he wasn’t getting to the quarterback as often.
Burns truly shined as a junior this past season. He set career highs in tackles, tackles for a loss, and sacks. Florida State had a torrid year in most phases, but Burns continued to wreak havoc. He played both sides of the defensive line and even stood up as an off-ball linebacker at times. He was voted first-team All-ACC and was a Bendarik Award semifinalist as one of the nation’s top defenders. His ten sacks, eight hurries, and three forced fumbles showed how he can be an impact pass-rusher at the next level.
Burns is an elusive defensive end with the versatility to play off the ball. He even dropped back in coverage on occasion for the Seminoles. Burns was primarily utilized rushing off the end but he occasionally ran stunts to the inside. He has a nice burst off the line and quickly diagnoses plays to determine how to attack the opposing offense. He doesn’t just rush straight up the field when going after the quarterback. An array of pass-rush moves allow him to spin and swim to outduel offensive tackles. He looked nearly unblockable in one-on-one situations due to his high football IQ.
Fit with Green Bay
The Packers must find a defensive playmaker in the first round. Burns could be well worth a top-15 pick, but due to a surplus of edge defenders, he could slide into the late first round. General manager Brian Gutekunst could just take his choice of pass rushers at 12 or possibly slide back and still land Burns. He could be a perfect team fit with the Packers as a 3-4 rush linebacker.
Most of the concerns with Burns stem from his slender and lightweight frame. This is why he should hope to be drafted somewhere he can be used as a 3-4 outside linebacker. In Green Bay, he could start from day one opposite Kyler Fackrell. Neither are particularly large but both are high motor players that could be schemed to build off one another. Burns doesn’t do any one thing perfectly but he has a vast array of moves at a young age. He has a nice combination of speed and power to go along with incredible length. He could have one of the highest ceilings of any edge rusher in this class. The Packers should take a long hard look at Burns in the top half of the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.
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