Carolina Panthers progressing patiently with first-round pick, defensive end Brian Burns.
The Carolina Panthers have a history when it comes to first-round draft picks. No matter when the team is on the clock during day one of the draft, it appears they take time developing each selection. This year it is defensive end Brian Burns, a hybrid defender who can also play from the outside linebacker position.
Not since defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was drafted in 2013 (No. 14 overall) has a Panthers first-round pick started all 16 regular season games. During that stretch, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin became the closest, appearing in every game but not starting at home against Seattle. Even running back Christian McCaffrey was eased into his current role during his rookie campaign.
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In a progress report for all first-round picks, it appears Carolina is following the same game plan for Burns. As the team transistions into more 3-4 fronts this season, the Panthers defense overall is expected to undergo some changes. That learning curve may have more of an impact on those who have been a part of Ron Rivera‘s traditional 4-3, which could play to Burns’ advantage, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
According to ESPN staff writer David Newton, “[Bruce] Irvin and Mario Addison likely will be first up. But Burns definitely shows the potential to disrupt the quarterback.” Although new to the Panthers, Irvin is a veteran defender who fits into this new plan for Rivera and his defense.
Adding Burns was an effort to increase pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially important in the NFC South, and his skill set should not go unused. Coupled with Bryan Cox Jr. and Marquis Haynes, the team has pieces in place for dialing up multiple pass rush schemes.
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After finishing near the bottom (No. 27) of the league with only 35 sacks last season, it is definitely an area of concern and hopefully one in which Burns will be allowed to contribute.