Carolina Panthers Brian Burns projected as opportunistic rookie

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Brian Burns
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Brian Burns /

Will Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick, Brian Burns, make an immediate impact?

As Brian Burns waited patiently on draft day to hear his name called, Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney had to be eager. Watching the first-round unfold Carolina had Burns targeted, needing to add a pass rusher on the outside who would fit into their new defensive philosophy.

Set to feature various fronts next season, coach Ron Rivera is expected to evolve from his traditional 4-3 set into more 3-4 looks. This shift is being made to create different avenues of pressure for the Panthers to attack opposing quarterbacks. Nowhere is this more important than in the NFC South, where teams face both Drew Brees and Matt Ryan twice every year.

Burns, a Florida State product who totaled 23 sacks and nearly 40 tackles for a loss in three seasons, fits the bill. Not only can he line up as a defensive end on four man fronts, but he can also play standing up as a traditional linebacker. The hybrid defensive player was a perfect match, on paper, for the Panthers and both parties are hoping it leads to significant production on the field.

More from Cat Crave

NFL analyst Dan Parr believes Burns is a great fit and in good position to make an impact provided he gets some assistance. If opposing teams are forced to only worry about Burns, then he will draw a majority of the attention – making it difficult for him to break out.

Fortunately, Mario Addison has developed into a relatively consistent pass rusher (averaging nearly 10 sacks in each of the past three seasons) while Bryan Cox Jr., Marquis Haynes and Efe Obada continue their progression. Any of those players erupting onto the scene in 2019 will only help Burns.

Few rookies make the transition into professional football effortlessly and Carolina has historically allowed their first-round picks time to develop – including recent selections: D.J. Moore, Vernon Butler and Shaq Thompson. Even running back Christian McCaffrey only carried the football 117 times his rookie season, compared to 219 last year.

Next. 2019 Roster Prediction - Offense. dark

Carolina can’t afford Burns the same opportunity. He needs to make an impact immediately and if other guys up front apply pressure, it will help his situation.