The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Miami corner Artie Burns in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Well, the Steelers finally took a corner in the first round of the NFL Draft. Many thought William Jackson III was a lock for the Black & Gold at 25, but he was scooped up by the rival Bengals at 24. Last season, the Bengals pulled the same move drafting corner Darqueze Dennard right before the Steelers picked.
With Jackson off the board, the Steelers took a chance on Miami Hurricanes cornerback Artie Burns at 25. Many considered Burns to be a borderline first round pick, but believed he would go on Day 2 of the draft. Fellow ACC corners Mackensie Alexander and Kendall Fuller were still on the board and were rated higher.
As I looked at this pick more and more, Burns is not a terrible pick for the Steelers. He is blessed with track speed and was one of the top hurlers in college track and field. At the NFL Combine, Burns ran a solid 4.46 but has been clocked running a 4.4.
Burns has good size and range for a cornerback. With some of the best ball skills in this draft, he intercepted 7 passes during his career including 6 his final season in Miami. And coming from a school Miami, Burns has that famous U swagger so many former Hurricanes possess. Not only is he bringing his swagger to the Steel City, but a love for the Steelers’ brand of defense.
The questions I had with this pick are that Burns is still a very raw corner. He does excel at bum and run coverage, but his technique and discipline is not what you want in a first round draft pick. At times, he was victimized by receivers in not only the passing game, but the run game.
Even with these weaknesses, you can’t help but root for a kid like Burns. With his father serving a 25 year jail term, he became the primary guardian for his siblings after the losing his mother during last season to a heart attack. This situation forced Burns to come out early for the draft. Shamarko Thomas had a similar story when the Steelers drafted him out of Syracuse.
Draft Grade: B-
Burns is your classic high risk, high reward pick for the Steelers. Though they did need a cornerback who could step in right way, if they coach him up and improve his technique, the former Hurricane can become a top flight corner in this league. In terms of production his season, look for the Steelers to do the same with Burns as they did with Bud Dupree.
As this draft continues, let’s hope the Steelers take some defensive players who can provide immediate impact on the defense.