Draft Breakdown: DE Brian Burns

By Nick Melillo |
Draft Breakdown: DE Brian Burns

Today we'll be looking at a favorite prospect of mine for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The EDGE or pass rushers in this class have some top-notch talent making its way to the NFL. Names such as Nick Bosa (Go Buckeyes!), Josh Allen, Montez Sweat, and Rashan Gary are just a few who are highly touted names this year.

Many of these players who I've just named are commonly mocked anywhere in the top 15 picks or always at least in the first round, seemingly a consensus. One prospect in this class is very different, and evaluations of him can range anywhere from a Top 10 pick down to the 2nd Round.

That prospect is Brian Burns, who's a very talented defensive end from Florida State University. He'll be the focus of my RosterGuy Draft Breakdown today. We'll be looking at Burns' stats and combine, as well as game tape to see how he stacks up in a loaded EDGE draft class.


Brian Burns, DE, Florida State

Career Stats By Year (per ESPN.com) 

2016: Freshman All-American, 23 Total Tackles,14 Solo, 9 Assists, 8.5 Sacks (Led All Freshmen) and 1 Forced Fumble.

2017: 47 Total Tackles, 25 Solo, 22 Assists, 4 Pass Deflections, 4.5 Sacks, 3 Forced Fumbles and a Punt Return for 13 Yards. 

2018: 53 Total Tackles, 31 Solo, 22 Assists, 3 Pass Deflections, 10 Sacks, and 3 Forced Fumbles.


Combine (per NFL.com)

Height: 6'5"

Weight: 249 lbs

Arms: 33 7/8"

Hands: 10"

40 Yard Dash: 4.53 Seconds

Vertical Jump: 36.0 Inches

Broad Jump: 129.0 Inches

 3 Cone Drill: 7.01 Seconds



  • Bend: One of Burns' most useful traits is his ability to bend low around his blocker to get past them. This, combined with his natural speed can help with giving him a clear path to the QB, something many college tackles could not account for leading to many unhappy quarterbacks.
  • Speed: Burns is a very fast player. He even ran a 4.53 at the combine that was impressive for a pass rusher who just added 20 pounds to his frame. He's shown at Florida State that he can use his speed to cause chaos in the backfield for any offense he's come up against. Hopefully, his combine performance proves, that he can play at a weight closer to 250+. With his shown speed, the added bulk will be something that will help against larger offensive tackles in the NFL.
  • Pursuit/Effort: One aspect of Burns' game that I've loved watching is his effort. He hardly ever takes a snap off, even in games that are easily one-sided. He has great pursuit finishing every play, and if he gets behind the line past his blocker, he can lay a big hit on the ball carrier and potentially make a game-changing play.



  • Run Game/Over Pursuit: The biggest knock on Burns is his struggles in the run game. Burns has a nose for the QB, but that eagerness for a sack or turnover has a tendency to take him out of his lane and open up a path for a big run. His effort is commendable, but it can come back to bite him at times.
  • Hand Moves/Separation: An aspect of Burns' game that I feel needs work is his hands. He has long arms that should be an advantage, but on tape he has a problem with not using them or even extending them to create space from his blocker. Instead, Burns will become stood up by his blocker, and have no way of using his speed to get around him. If Burns could add a spin move or a chop to his pass rushing tools, that would go a long way to fixing this issue and give him an easier route to the QB.



  • Final Thoughts: Burns has many great pass rushing traits, even with some rough edges in the run game. His measurements, tape and combine showing give first round potential even in a loaded EDGE class. With the right coaching and scheme, Burns' combination of length, bend and speed can make for a very productive pass rusher at the NFL level that so many teams are looking for.
  • Grade: First Round Pick

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