Panthers DE Brian Burns is no longer an “under-the-radar” talent

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns can no longer be considered as an under-the-radar talent after a sensational 2020 campaign.

It’s clear that the Carolina Panthers have a star on their hands with Brian Burns. Big things were expected of the former Florida State standout once he got to the next level and after catching the eye on a rotational basis as a rookie, he thrived with some extra responsibility on his shoulders during the 2020 campaign.

Burns went from a pass-rushing specialist to becoming the Carolina Panthers’ No. 1 option on the edge. This is a role he took extremely seriously, working exceptionally hard during the offseason to become a three-down threat that was capable of making his presence felt with a substantial increase in reps.

From this point of view, it was mission accomplished. Burns was a ferocious figure from start to finish for a defensive front that struggled to generate any sort of meaningful pressure during the early portion of the campaign if it wasn’t coming from him.

His ability to lead from the front following a host of veteran departures was another valuable asset to call upon throughout the campaign, and being overlooked for the Pro Bowl should give Burns some extra motivation in the coming months as he looks to take his game to new heights next time around.

This will be good news for the Panthers.

But now the whole league will see Burns coming like they never have before.

Carolina Panthers DE named an unsung hero by

In a recent article by Nick Shook of Around the NFL, the writer chose Burns as the unsung hero on the Panthers after a season that brought plenty of memorable highlights along the way.

"Quietly, Burns became a force off the edge for the up-and-coming Panthers in 2020. Burns tied for eighth in the league in total disruptions with 55 and recorded nine sacks and 43 QB pressures. He also impacted the game in a direct fashion, forcing two turnovers via pressure to go along with 58 tackles, including 31 stops (tackles that result in a successful play for the defense based on the yards to go by down) and seven run-stuffs. Burns was there in crucial moments for the Panthers — and he was there in a hurry, posting the fastest average time to hurry in the NFL at 2.66 seconds."

The writer is spot on with his analysis.

But the edge rusher can simply no longer be classed as unsung.

Ask any offensive coordinator across the league. When they are devising a gameplan on how to move the chains against Carolina, one of their primary objectives will be trying to prevent Burns from getting into the backfield consistently.

Easier said than done.

However, it is at the forefront of their minds.

Burns possesses the sort of explosiveness off the block that is incredibly hard to stop. Couple this with a more refined set of pass-rushing moves to call upon and there is little questioning his status as one of the brightest young players at the position currently plying their trade across the league.

There is a chance Burns can get even better next season. Carolina’s defense overall made great strides as the season went on and if the Panthers can get additional pressure from the other side it would do the player’s chances of hitting double-digit sacks for the first time the world of good.

Learning to finish off plays more efficiently will also see his numbers go through the roof, with the player getting to the spot almost too quickly in some instances where he came within a whisker of adding to his sack total.

Year three is when we see the true potential of a player. They have a couple of seasons under their belts and in Burns’ case, he now has a full campaign of being a starter and the title of the best defensive player on Carolina’s roster.

An unsung hero to many, perhaps. But everyone associated with the Panthers knows how gifted and pivotal the player is to the team’s short and long-term aspirations.