5 Panthers players who are the cornerstones of future success

(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore /
3 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Brian Burns – Carolina Panthers DE

For all Marty Hurney’s faults – and he has many – the general manager has struck gold with the majority of first-round selections in recent years. This is no more prevalent than in the example of Brian Burns, who is fast becoming one of the NFL’s most explosive defensive ends.

The improvements made by Burns from his rookie year to this one has been nothing short of extraordinary. His commitment to making significant strides in difficult circumstances this offseason due to COVID-19 health concerns to become a three-down defensive lineman who can make a big impact is paying off in no uncertain terms.

Burns has been sensational in 2020 so far. He is the defensive lynchpin on the front seven who has the speed and strength to get into the backfield at will. His six sacks could be a lot more had he finished more plays, but his 17 quarterback hits and 29 pressure os further proof of just what a special player he is.

The former Florida State standout led all NFC defensive ends in Pro Bowl votes after round one, which means his production isn’t going unnoticed. It’s easy to forget that Burns is still just 22-years-old and if he develops even further approaching his prime, then the pass-rusher is going to be almost unstoppable.

The Carolina Panthers need to get better pieces around Burns in certain areas, which would also help him considerably.