I try my best to sleep on the tough decisions. I figure I’ll get some sleep, wake up with a clear mind and see how I feel about the issues that were bouncing around in my head the night before. With the NFL Draft into it’s third hour, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally made their selection of Miami cornerback Artie Burns and I wasn’t thrilled with it so off to bed I went.
After getting a few hours of shut-eye I can honestly say I don’t feel any different than I did last night. This is a reach for the Steelers in the first round and it comes in a draft where reaches at the cornerback position just weren’t necessary. If he can develop properly however, he could be a mainstay for years to come but that’s a big “If.”
Let’s talk about Burns first… The young man is a freakish athlete. He literally has world-class speed as he was the top hurdler in the nation coming out of high school in both the 110 and 330 hurdles. Burns is also long. He fits the bigger corner types that Art Rooney II discussed following the 2015 season as he stand over six feet tall. He gets his hands on lots of balls because of that length and obviously with his speed, his interceptions are always threats to be returned for six.
What concerns me with Burns is that he’s raw. He’s going to need serious coaching on technique and route recognition and I’m not real confident that Carnell Lake is the guy to get that done based on what we’ve seen from our secondary under the former Steeler great. I don’t find Burns all that aggressive in his tackling either and that is a huge no-no for Steelers’ defensive backs which makes me question the pick even more. It’s not that he won’t tackle, it’s that he often appears lazy in his attempts.
Based on the people I’ve spoken with and from reading the comments of draft experts, there’s a lot to like about Burns but I and much of Steeler Nation expected more here in the first round. With such a deep group of corners in this draft, the Steelers could have easily gone in other directions most notably on the defensive line but chose not to do so.
In a year where the Steelers need corner help they may be getting it but it just might not come for a few more years and that’s the biggest problem I have with this pick.
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