4 encouraging signs for Panthers to take from the 2020 season

(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

The evolution of Brian Burns

Brian Burns has the world at his feet.

The Carolina Panthers were expecting big things from their 2019 first-round pick during his sophomore campaign after moving him from a rotational pass-rusher to the No. 1 defensive end option. This was a responsibility that Burns appeared ready for and the way he performed throughout the season was perhaps even greater than what was expected.

Burns evolved from a pass-rushing specialist to a three-down defensive lineman who could make his presence felt at will. He made some significant strides in run support and provided the Panthers with an explosive presence off the edge that was almost unblockable at times.

The former Florida State standout gets to the spot extremely fast – sometimes too quickly for his own good – so once he learns how to finish off plays more efficiently it could see the player become one of the very best in the business.

He is well on his way to that already.

Burns recorded nine sacks, 58 tackles, 21 quarterback hits, eight tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, four passes defended, and 58 pressures from 15 games in 2020 – 14 of which he started. The second-year-pro is a key component to any success that comes Carolina’s way moving forward and this was another first-round selection that recently departed general manager Marty Hurney knocked out of the park.