Carolina Panthers: 3 second-year players who could break out in 2020

Dean Jones
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Dennis Daley
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Dennis Daley /
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Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) Brian Burns /

Brian Burns – DE

There is real hope within the Carolina Panthers that Brian Burns can make significant strides forward in 2020. The pass-rusher had a strong rookie season and much more is expected this time around with more responsibility on his shoulders.

Burns was a first-round selection in 2019 and managed to secure 7.5 sacks during the season. This was encouraging when one considers the struggles overall for the Panthers’ defense.

Given how many exciting players will be lining up alongside Burns in the Panthers front seven next season, then a double-digit sack total is not entirely out of the question. The organization will be moving to a 4-3 base defense in 2020 which will see the second-year pro line up at defensive end alongside Kawann Short, Stephen Weatherly, and No. 7 overall pick Derrick Brown.

With Shaq Thompson and second-rounder Yetur Gross-Matos expected to fill the outside linebacker spots. It would be a huge shock if the Panthers did not get to the quarterback a significant amount next season. Burns will also benefit from Short and Brown eating up so much space on the inside, which is another thing he has in his favor.

Although this is a young defense that is expected to go through its fair share of turmoil next season. Burns can provide the Panthers with a formidable pass-rushing presence that could end up with Pro Bowl consideration if he lives up to expectations.