Former Heritage and Florida State University’s (FSU) star defensive end, Brian Burns, declared for the NFL draft Dec. 3.
In his 35 high school games as a Patriot, Burns accumulated 28 sacks, 160 total tackles and three fumble recoveries, winning two national championships along the way. As a high schooler, 247Sports ranked him the twenty-second best player in the nation, the second best defensive end and overall fifth best player in Florida. Burns also managed to earn Class 5A All-State First Team honors in 2015. Coming out of high school, ESPN ranked Burns as a four-star recruit, and he received offers from schools such as the University of Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas but ultimately decided to attend FSU in 2016.
In his freshman year, Burns’ 9.5 sacks led all freshman across the nation and helped earn him All-American honors from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), ESPN and USA Today. He was also able to account for 23 total tackles, one fumble recovery and one blocked punt in only eight games played.
In his sophomore year, Burns was given a greater opportunity to showcase histalent as he started all of FSU’s 13 games. Though Burns would end the year with just 4.5 sacks, he was able to reach career highs in total tackles, with 48, and tackles for loss, with 13.5. He also recorded three forced fumbles and blocked two punts throughout the season, which tied for the third-most nationwide that year. Burns also showed out in primetime games against highly ranked teams, such as FSU’s matchup against No. 4 Clemson University, in which Burns erupted with 4.5 tackles for loss, two of them being sacks. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one, becoming the first player in school history to do so in the same game.
Burns’ junior year would prove to be the best season of his young career as he again notched career highs in total tackles, with 52, tackles for loss, with 15.5, and sacks, with 10, in only the 12 games he played. He also matched the previous season’s efforts with three forced fumbles and one recovery across the season. Burns’ junior year also happened to be his last season as a Seminole, since he has opted to forego his senior year and play in the NFL.
Senior NFL draft analyst Charlie Campbell’s scouting report on Burns projects the edge rusher to be selected in the early portion of the second round to teams lacking superb defensive end talent such as the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and New York Giants. Other reports, though, such as one from 247Sports, have Burns going as early as the first round. Though Campbell does commend Burns on his “explosive speed off the edge” and overall top-end athleticism, the scouting report also notes that he needs to focus on enhancing his strength and run defense in order to thrive in the NFL.
Burns has garnered a multitude of comparisons to plenty of talented players across the league, including former number one overall pick and current Cleveland Brown, defensive end Myles Garrett. “In some ways, his get off and his bend reminds me of Myles Garrett,” FSU defensive end coach Mark Snyder said before Burns’ junior season. “That’s the only guy I’ve been around that can do what Brian can do rushing the quarterback.” Though early draft projects do not feature Burns as the top selection in his draft class, many reports expect there will be teams willing to spend their first round pick on the star defensive end.