There are always outstanding players that go completely overlooked come draft time. There is always one reason or another for their fall.
This year there is one extremely gifted player that has caught my eye. Miami Hurricanes cornerback Artie Burns has Round 1 talent with a third-round projection. He was being projected as late as the fifth round, but he is slowly climbing draft boards. To say he’s a diamond in the rough would be an understatement.
Whoever grabs this kid is going to get an absolute steal. I believe he has enough value and upside that the Carolina Panthers should consider him at the end of the first round. If not, he’d be a great fit staying home with the Miami Dolphins in Round 2.
Burns is a supremely talented athlete, he was a four-star recruit both as a football and track star. At 6 foot tall and 193 pounds, he has ideal NFL size. Despite running a 4.46 40 at the combine, he’s widely considered faster than that and has unofficially timed much faster at “The U.” He also broke a 38-year-old American record, timing out at 7.68 seconds in the 60-yard hurdles under the age of 21 in 2014 and was a three-time state 3A 110 hurdle champion in Florida.
On top of his pure athleticism, he’s actually a very good player and an undeniable playmaker. Granted his technique certainly needs work. On film at times it’s clear he’s a raw talent that will definitely need to be coached up and improve his technique on the next level.
He will also have absolutely need to become a more proficient tackler. When he should be lowering the boom and taking a ball-carrier down, he tends to wrap up and hold on for dear life often giving up a few extra yards or allowing the opposing player to escape altogether. However, his skill and play-making ability outweigh these fixable issues.
In 2015, Burns led the entire ACC with six interceptions and despite his poor tackling technique, he’s actually excellent at sniffing out ball-carriers. He has an innate ability to sneak by blockers and get to the quarterback on corner blitzes or running backs in the rushing attack.
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In press coverage he gets physical and extends his long arms and has the straight line speed to run with just about anybody.
When you combine that with his superior ball skills, how do you pass on this guy three times? Don’t be shocked if he’s a high-end cornerback-1 by the time his rookie contract expires. His upside is immense.
There is no doubt he is more than motivated to succeed on the next level, so I wouldn’t worry about his drive for greatness. He’s widely considered a leader and is known for his heart. This goes much deeper though. He lost his mother to a heart attack last season and his father has been locked up for a long time. He needs this for his family, both financially and as a role model.
I’ll leave with a quote from a statement (courtesy of Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel) he released when declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft, he can articulate his inspiration much better than I can.
“Due to my mom’s sudden passing and my father being incarcerated, I now have custody of my two younger brothers and my son to raise. It is my responsibility to be the financial supporter my family needs to continue our day-to-day lives,” Burns said. “Also, playing in the National Football League has always been a dream of mine and I believe the time to pursue this dream is now. I feel I am mentally and physically ready. Now that the time has come for me to take the next step in my journey, I will come back to complete my degree from this prestigious university.”
Powerful words indeed from a very determined young man.