5. Artie Burns, Cornerback
Artie Burns had a bright future coming out of Miami when the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him with the 25th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. He has the speed to keep up with any receiver and measuring in at 6-foot-0, weighing 193 pounds he has the size.
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Something happened on his way to stardom, however. He didn’t work out as the Steelers planned. He came off the bench in his first seven games but started in every game afterward. In the 10 games he started in 2016, he had 46 tackles, nine passes defended and three interceptions. He started his career on a good foot.
In 42 games since, however, Burns recorded just one interception and 84 tackles. He ultimately lost his starter’s job and playing time altogether, having only one start in 10 games last season.
The Steelers let Burns walk this offseason and he signed with the Bears. The Bears see his talent and hope to resurrect his career.
Burns is in a battle with rookie Jaylon Johnson, Kevin Toliver and Tre Robinson. Johnson was the Bears’ second-round pick, the 50th overall in this year’s draft while Robinson came over from the Canadian Football League. Toliver was an undrafted rookie who signed with the Bears in 2018.
This battle could determine Burns’ career trajectory. If he cannot win a job this season he could be permanently out of a job. He has more experience playing NFL receivers so he has an advantage in what to expect.
Johnson is likely the future for the Bears at outside cornerback. Burns can be the immediate future for the Bears, though. He signed a one-year contract and if he plays well he could parlay that into a multi-year contract elsewhere. If he doesn’t succeed, then he’ll need a change of career.