Know Your Prospect: Brian Burns, the underrated pass rusher who might be just as good as Nick Bosa

It's draft season and it's time to get aquatinted with some potential future 49ers

Tommy Call
April 12, 2019 - 8:12 am

We’re officially two weeks away from the 2019 NFL Draft and 95.7 The Game’s “Know Your Prospect” series is underway. Over the next few weeks we will highlight some of the top players, best fits and names you should know for the 2019 draft class. With Jimmy Garoppolo coming back from injury and pressure building for John Lynch in year three the 49ers desperately need to put together a draft haul that can make an impact day one.


Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State

Height: 6’4

Weight: 249 lbs

2018 stats: 53 TOT, 10 Sacks, 4 FF, TFL 15.5

40-Yard Dash: 4.53

Grade: Top-10 pick

Comparison: Jason Taylor


When you’re a pass rusher who could go in the first round, you should have a few skills; speed, a quick first step and power. Those are gimmies, but what separates an elite edge who should go in the top-5 versus just a first-round guy? Bend is one of those elite traits that you won’t find in many draft prospects. Bend lets you slip the offensive tackle while finding the angle for the quarterback. (Think Von Miller).

Burns is already fast and athletic, but he can demolish offensive lineman with his bend around the corner. Around the edge Burns can lean as far as a professional motorcycle racer coming around a turn. At times Burns can take a wider angle when rushing the passer which isn’t a good thing, but his ability to cut to the quarterback allows him to make up for his angles.

He’s extremely flexible for a man that stands at 6’4 making him a nightmare for stiff offensive linemen. Burns backed up his elite bendability at the combine by posting a 7.01 3-cone drill which was seventh best for defensive linemen and ranked in the 82nd percentile overall.

Pass Rush Artist:

When you hear about Burns you usually hear about how athletic he is or how great his bend is, but Burns doesn't get enough credit for being a pure pass rush artist. He uses a full pass rush arsenal in his attack of the quarterback. He has an approach as a pass rusher meaning he doesn’t just blindly try to use his speed to burst by offensive tackles. He uses an onslaught of hands, footwork and spin moves to get to the passer.

Speaking of the spin move, it’s a rare rush that I personally don’t usually love from you edge rushers, but Burn’s is so fluid that you can’t knock it. It’s one of the best spin moves we’ve seen since Dwight Freeney. Adding to his spin move, Burns uses his hands in a nuclear chop attack against offensive linemen that is so quick you’ll need to use slow motion to watch it. Burns uses that chop to create seperation from offensive tackles then leans into them with his bend to get around the corner to the quarterback.  

Burns' pass rush repertoire is only comparable to one other pass rusher in the draft and he’s the consensus best player in the draft: Nick Bosa. But here’s the thing, as pure pass rusher the gap between Burns and Bosa isn’t really that large. Burns needs to start being mentioned in the same breathe with Bosa.


The last thing we have to mention about Burns is the obvious, his speed. Burns has speed that fits he’s name— a burner on the edge. Burns can ware down bigger tackles with his relentless burst in and out of every down. Burns has pure speed as a runner, but also possesses an electric first step off the line. Burns proved his burst was for real at the combine with a 1.61 10-yard split.

Heading into the combine there were questions about Burns’ light weight, but he stepped to the scale and weighed in at 249 lbs. Many expected him to weight somewhere between 225-235 and when he weighed in closer to 250, evaluators expected some loss in athleticism, but nope. Burns ran an electric 4.53 40-yard dash. If Montez Sweat didn’t post superhuman number there’s no doubt Burns would’ve been the most popular edge player in Indianapolis.

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