Burns is a supreme athlete that is very raw in his technique. Even so, the Lions should draft him in the Second Round.
Artie Burns was a two sport athlete at the University of Miami as a cornerback for the football team and an All-American hurdler for the track team. He’s a playmaker who has leaned on his athletic superiority to break up five passes and haul in six interceptions this past season. So Burns has some skills, but why should Detroit draft him?
The Lions have plenty of needs to address in the draft, chief among them are offensive tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end and I wouldn’t blame you for yelling at me about taking a corner this early, especially when corner is probably the team’s deepest position. But the Lions could use another outside corner. Right now, Nevin Lawson is probably the starter opposite Slay and while he’s serviceable outside, Lawson just doesn’t have the size, speed or physicality to consistently win outside of the hashes. He’s much better suited inside as the Nickel or Dime corner. Do you know who has size, speed and physicality in spades? Artie Burns. He’s built almost exactly the same as Slay and has every bit as much athleticism. If he can learn the technical stuff from Slay himself, it wouldn’t take long for Burns and Slay to form one of the best CB duos in the league.
Burns the Player
As I’ve been hammering, Burns is very athletic. When he’s on his game, you notice him on the field. But he has a tendency to take plays off or sometimes it seems he takes entire games off. He also plays very physical. He’s best in press man coverage where he can disrupt receivers from the start. On the flip-side of that coin, he gets grabby when he ends up out of position due to his poor technique. Essentially, he has all the physical traits you want in an outside corner but he lacks the technique to be a top corner. That’s what coaching is for.
Burns the Person
I know what you’re thinking. Burns takes plays off and can appear to be lackadaisical at times. Does that mean he’s a risky player or that there may be character concerns? I don’t think so. Burns has a lot on his plate. His mother passed away suddenly in the middle of the football season this year, leaving him in charge of raising and caring for his siblings. That was the main factor in Burns’ decision to declare early for the draft. Imagine having to deal with that and still have your head in the game every week.
Why Not Someone Else?
In this year’s draft class, Vernon Hargreaves III and William Jackson III are the top corners and they probably won’t be there for the Lions in the first round. Shoot, even Eli Apple may be gone before the Lions make their first selection. If those three are all gone, the Lions won’t be using a first rounder on a corner. After Apple though, you have Mackensie Alexander, Kendall Fuller and Sean Davis. Alexander and Fuller should be gone before the Lions are on the clock in the second round and Davis is probably more of a safety in the NFL. Burns is the next best corner after these guys on most boards and while some might view the Lions’ pick as early for Burns, I think he’d cement the Lions’ corners as the best group in the NFL in terms of youth and talent.