Atlanta Falcons Potential First Round Pick: Brian Burns

Atlanta Falcons, Brian Burns (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Brian Burns (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Leonard Floyd (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /


The biggest strength Brian Burns possesses is his quick first step explosion off the snap. This alone has allowed him to win off the edge against slower offensive tackles. Yet Burns does not just rely on his quick first step, he also posses a wide repertoire of pass rushing moves. This includes spin moves, swim moves and rips. He also shows great flexibility and bend, when turning the corner to attack the quarterback.

Burns owns a high football IQ and does a good job of diagnosing what the offense is attempting to do at the snap. He also does well at using his length, both to beat tackles when rushing the passer and to keep run blockers from getting inside his pads and getting a firm block on him. His length also helps him to drag down ball carriers in the run game. Additionally his long arms helped him to force six fumbles over his last two seasons.

Brian Burns is a fluid athlete. This combined with his speed, makes him great at pursuit of running backs, as well as spying on quarterbacks. This combination also makes him adequate when being asked to drop into coverage. Burns has the versatility to play a standing linebacker position in a 3-4 defense, and even a weak side linebacker in a 4-3 defense, particularly on running downs. Lance Zierlein of compares Brian Burns to Leonard Floyd of the Chicago Bears. Floyd is a local product who starred for the Georgia Bulldogs in college. Check out Zierlein’s comprehensive bio and scouting report on Burns by clicking here.


Brian Burns lacks the size of a prototypical defense end. His small frame makes it a question on how much more weight he can add, without losing his speed and agility. Though he uses his arms well, he’s not a hard hitter by any means. Brian also needs to get stronger if he hopes to dominate at the NFL level. The fact that he skipped the weight lifting event at the combine raises concerns. It seems as though Burns did not want his lack of strength to possibly damage his draft stock.

In the run game Burns can be beaten by stronger offensive linemen at the point of attack, if they get a firm grip inside his pads. When this happens, Brian struggles to disengage from blocks. Though he uses his hands well, he does not have enough power behind the hand movements. Burns also does not possess the professional ability to convert speed to power as a pass rusher. His bull-rush needs major work.

The Draft Network team of Kyle Crabbs, Jon Ledyard and Joe Marino give a thorough analysis of Brian Burns in this article. Crabbs offers a summary of Brian Burns abilities in the following quote:

"Brian Burns is a special prospect with dynamic range, explosive qualities and terrific length/polish as a pass rusher. Burns brings one of the finest pass rushing skill sets to the table in recent years and his explosiveness and developed hand usage should help him provide his team with impact pass rush from day one. Burns would be well served to fill out his frame to be a more well-rounded player but he’s got game-changing qualities."

Pro Football Focus offers this analysis of Brian Burns in this YouTube Video: