What exactly do the Carolina Panthers have at DE in 2021?

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Brian Burns – Carolina Panthers DE

Considering the strides made by Brian Burns in just his second season with the Carolina Panthers, he is a player that could be destined for greatness. The former first-round pick is one of the league’s most explosive edge rushers and it seems that the Florida State product is only just scratching the surface of what he is truly capable of.

Burns was used as a situational defensive end as a rookie by Ron Rivera. Some exceptional work developing his game last offseason saw the player quickly become a well-rounded defensive end with the world at his feet.

There is little any opposing offensive tackle can do to stop Burns when he’s firing on all cylinders. His spin-move is a joy to behold and once the lineman learns how to finish off plays more efficiently, the sky is the limit.

In 15 games for the Panthers in 2020 – 14 of which he started – Burns recorded nine sacks, 58 tackles, 21 quarterback hits, eight tackles for loss, and 37 pressures from 71 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

He also attained an impressive 76.8 grade from Pro Football Focus to further enhance his growing reputation.

Burns will draw more attention from opposing protection schemes moving forward. But the presence of two space-eaters on the interior in Derrick Brown and DaQuan Jones should ease this burden considerably.

He goes into the season with a Pro Bowl or better ceiling. The Panthers are counting on Burns not only to perform on the field but also become a prominent locker room leader in the process.