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Panthers Add To Defense in 1st Round

Jason Huber
April 25, 2019 - 11:42 pm

The Carolina Panthers added much-needed depth to their defensive line with the selection of Florida State defensive end Brian Burns as the 16th pick of the NFL Draft.

Listed at 6-foot-5, 249 pounds, Burns is the first defensive end selected by the Panthers in the first round since Julius Peppers was selected second overall in 2002.

Burns, 21, will be following in the footsteps of his brother, former defensive end Stanley McClover, who was drafted by Carolina in the seventh round in 2006 and spent two seasons with the Panthers.

Burns, a Florida native, told WFNZ’s Wilson & Parcell in that the only jersey he owned growing up was Julius Peppers, who retired at the end of this season.

Now, Burns will be one of a few looked upon to help replace the Panthers legend.

“It’s crazy, but nothing strange,” Burns said. “I’m glad to fill those shoes and really contribute to this team. I’m ready.”

Burns was ranked 27th in NFL.com’s draft prospects rankings and said once he knew Peppers retired, he could see the writing on the wall if he fell to Carolina.

“I’ve always watched his film and looked up to him and I definitely feel like I can obtain that level,” Burns said. “I’m really excited to be here. I’m glad it was written this way.”

Burns weighed 235 pounds at Florida State, but checked in at 249 pounds at the NFL Combine.

Carolina general manager Marty Hurney says the new playing weight isn’t a concern.

“He’s an athlete. We watched every play from every game and there were several games where he just has a knack to apply pressure from the outside,” Hurney said. “He’s going to get better and better at his technique. You can’t coach the traits he’s got.”

Last year at Florida State, Burns had 52 tackles, including 15.5 for loss, with 10 sacks in 12 starts. Burns was named First-Team All-ACC and ranks eighth all-time in career tackles for the Seminoles.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t say whether Burns would be a Day 1 starter, but did say said Burns will be a big part of the team’s defensive line.

“He’s going to come in and mix it up and be a part of we’re doing,” Rivera said. “We have a good group of veteran guys that will help him grow and he could have a very good, solid, long career here.”

Burns joins a Panthers defensive end corps that includes pro bowler Mario Addison, recently signed veteran Bruce Irvin, Bryan Cox, Jr., Marquis Haynes and Efe Obada.

“I know they’re all great pass-rushers and when I went up there I watched film with them, I really liked the moves they were doing,” Burns said. “I definitely would like to pick their brain and see what they think about pass rushing.”

Carolina will pick 47th overall (15th in the second round) and at No. 77 and No. 100 in the third round on Friday night.

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