2019: EDGE Brian Burns
Burns is the most recent of the Panthers’ first-round picks and he plays the same position of the Redskins’ likely first-round pick in 2020. And while an edge player may be more of a luxury for the Redskins, Burns filled a big need for the Panthers.
In Rivera’s final season with the team, they switched to a 3-4 defense and needed some edge rushers that fit their scheme. With the 16th pick in the draft, they selected Brian Burns.
The Florida State product had talent and athletic ability that was clear on tape, but there were some concerns about his size and weight for the next level. He quelled some of those by clocking a quick 40 time at the combine at an increased weight. Given that plus his bend on the edge, Burns was the best fit for the Panthers at 16.
It’s too early to give a full judgment on Burns, but he had a quality rookie season. Despite starting in just five games, he racked up 7.5 sacks and was mostly used as a pass-rushing specialist. This made sense given that he wasn’t a particularly strong edge setter in college, but he sure showed off what made him an early target of the Panthers.
This pick was a case of need matching up well with how the board fell in 2019. The pick was a solid fit for Rivera and if Burns continues to progress, it looks like he will be yet another nice get for Rivera during his time with the Panthers.