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Brian Burns was already a damn-good defensive end when the Panthers picked him in the 2019 NFL draft. He showed superstar potential as a rookie despite limited playing time and it didn’t take long for him to deliver on it. This past season, Burns elevated his game to an elite level – forcing himself into the conversation among the NFL’s top edge defenders.
The competition at that position is more fierce than any other in the league right now, making Burns’ ascent into top-five territory that much more impressive. Burns has earned a number of accolades, including the team’s Ed Block Courage award. His latest honor? Pro Football Focus has named Burns Carolina’s most improved player of the 2020 season.
“This season, Burns began to establish himself as one of the NFL’s premier speed rushers off the edge, flashing a nasty spin move to counter inside. He finished the year with 57 pressures and an 86.9 pass-rushing grade — fifth among all edge defenders in the league, behind only Khalil Mack, T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa and Myles Garrett.”
Burns was snubbed for a Pro Bowl spot on the NFC team along with right tackle Taylor Moton this year. If he keeps performing like this, it will be impossible to overlook him for much longer.
Heading into his third year in the league, Burns has posted 16.5 sacks, 37 quarterback hits, 13 tackles for a loss and four forced fumbles in 31 games. It will be tough to surpass T.J. Watt, but Burns’ ceiling is as high as any other EDGE.