The Pittsburgh Steelers have passed on a cornerback in the first round of the NFL Draft the past couple years despite a questionable performance from that position in their defense. After two seasons with a power offense, the Steelers grabbed Artie Burns from the University of Miami in the first round of the 2016 draft to improve their play on defense on Thursday night.
Burns, at six-feet and 193 pounds put together a combine time of 4.46 in the 40-yard dash. With good height, size and speed, his athleticism will give the Steelers a defender who can cover the taller receivers NFL teams have been favoring.
Burns put together a nice football resume at Miami with six interceptions (as a junior) and 13 passes defensed. In his first two seasons, Burns had one interception and 10 passes defensed. His interception total in 2015 was the most by a Hurricanes player since the ten Sean Taylor grabbed in 2003.
“Burns has the requisite play-speed, competitive toughness and budding ball-awareness to develop into a starting press-corner in the NFL,” said draft analyst Dane Brugler.
NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper said Burns “is a tremendously talented player. His skill-set is arguably as good as any of (the corners at the Combine). Kiper feels Burns’ physicality in college may require some patient training to avoid penalties that are stricter in the NFL. Burns was a hands-in-the-face type of defensive back who loved tight coverage that might be a liability as a pro, but expressed a belief that Burns would do well if he adjusts to playing cleanly and back off the receivers just a bit.