TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Brian Burns makes sense in Carolina, and in more ways than one.
Sure, the Panthers were attracted to all of the things that Burns did on the field during his three years at Florida State – the 24 sacks, the 39.5 tackles for loss and the All-ACC and All-America honors.
For those reasons, and not to mention his 6-foot-5, 249-pound frame that still has some room to grow, the Panthers made Burns their first choice of the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday night, using the 16th overall pick on the former FSU standout.
Welcome to the @NFL, Spidey. 🕷
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) April 26, 2019
And Burns, for his part, over the last few weeks saw a few good reasons to think that Carolina might make for a fine landing spot.
For one, Burns’ brother and close confidant, former NFL defensive end Stanley McClover, was drafted by the Panthers and played his first two years with the franchise. Burns, in a conference call with reporters shortly after the selection, said he recalled hanging out with Panthers star defensive end Julius Peppers as a kid.
Not only that, but Carolina also has some Garnet-and-Gold influence in its defensive meeting room.
Ten years ago, the Panthers picked former FSU defensive end Everette Brown in the second round of the 2009 draft, and Brown recently joined the Panthers’ staff as an assistant linebackers coach.
Not only that, but Brown’s former FSU teammate and 2008 Lou Groza Award winner, kicker Graham Gano, has handled the Panthers’ place-kicking duties since 2012.
GO NOLES!!! Welcome to the team @Fire_Burns99
— Graham Gano (@GrahamGano) April 26, 2019
So Burns will be in good company.
“You think of Florida State over the years, you think of great pass-rushers,” college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on ABC’s draft broadcast. “…This is a really athletic, dynamic pass-rusher.”
And most pundits around Carolina and the NFL believe that Burns will be a fine fit for the Panthers’ revamped defense.
Carolina made two defensive staff changes following the 2018 season and are expected to bounce between 4-3 and 3-4 looks.
Meaning that Burns could play as a down lineman on one snap – as he did at Florida State – then stand up as an outside linebacker on the next.
The Panthers believe he could do both.
“He’s capable of contributing as a traditional defensive end,” Bryan Strickland wrote on the Panthers’ official site, “but (Burns) played closer to 235 pounds in college and has the athleticism to drop into coverage or defend the run as an edge linebacker in hybrid looks.”
In fact, some reports even suggested that the Panthers might consider trading to move up in the draft, but, after watching the way the board unfolded, felt confident that they could stand pat and grab him.
There were some nervous moments for Carolina waiting to see if Brian Burns would still be on the board. Huge sigh of relief. Got their man.
— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) April 26, 2019
“This is one of the guys, when you look at him, you see speed, speed and more speed,” CBS NFL analyst Pete Prisco wrote in his draft analysis. “The Panthers had all kinds of problems rushing the passer last year and Julius Peppers retired, so this makes sense. Good pick for the Panthers. I really like this pick.”
Burns, who attended the draft in Nashville along with FSU coach Willie Taggart, let some of his personality shine through during the broadcast.
In addition to his garnet suit and gold-framed sunglasses, Burns took the stage wearing a pair of socks that paid homage to his favorite superhero: Marvel’s Spider-man.
— Natalie Neysa Alund (@nataliealund) April 25, 2019
Burns has a Spider-Man themed header photo on his Twitter account, often posed like Spidey after big plays, and, after hearing his name called on Thursday night, flexed his wrists to imitate the way that Spider-Man shoots his trademark web at bad guys.
Or maybe at opposing quarterbacks.
No surprise, then, that with draft night turning out to be an unequivocal success, Burns knew exactly how he wanted to celebrate.
— The Charlotte Post (@thecharpost) April 26, 2019