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It's well-documented that the Jets haven't had a player that can create constant pressure off the edge for some time. While Muhammad Wilkerson and Calvin Pace each posted seasons with double-digit sacks in recent years, Wilkerson did much of his damage on the interior and Pace was in more of a clean-up/contain role. You'd need to go back to John Abraham -- whom the Jets traded away 13 years ago -- for the last player who was a consistent threat off the edge.
The 2019 Draft gives the Jets a realistic chance to address this need once and for all. Nick Bosa or Josh Allen could be available with the Jets picking third and could provide an immediate upgrade over the current candidates to start -- such as Jordan Jenkins and Brandon Copeland. However, the Jets might instead move back to pick up more draft capital.
If the Jets opt to trade down, one of the top edge rushers who might still be available is Florida State's Brian Burns. Could he be the guy they target to upgrade their pass rush?
Projected Pick: Potential top-10
College (career): 123 tackles, 23 sacks in three years
Combine: 4.53 in 40-yard dash
The first thing that is apparent from watching film on Burns is that he has a tall, lanky frame and is explosive at the snap. He displayed his athletic credentials at the scouting combine by posting excellent numbers for speed, explosiveness and agility.
But there's more to Burns' game than just athleticism. He displays good technique and pass rushing instincts, in addition to being a high-motor player who gives a consistent effort.
Burns has mastered a variety of pass rush moves such as the dip-and-bend or spin move. However, what sets him apart from many other young pass rushers is that he also takes an intelligent approach to beating his man, by mixing up his moves to set his man up and coming up with a counter when initially repelled.
All of this led to Burns racking up more pressure in 2018 than any of the top prospects in this year's class, including Allen. He also had a career-high 10 sacks last season.
Burns also shows good fundamentals in hand fighting techniques to enable him to get off blocks cleanly. This not only helps him generate pressure as a pass rusher but also helps him produce against the run.
With his excellent flexibility and movement skills, Burns is also capable of contributing in space both against the run and in coverage. He also has a knack for batting passes down at the line of scrimmage.
While Burns could be a target if the Jets move down, they would need to weigh if the extra pick or picks they could acquire in such a move would be worth the perceived downgrade from simply securing a player like Allen with the third pick. Then again, some draft analysis sites, including Draft Network, believe Burns is as good as -- if not better than -- Allen anyway.
The major reason Allen is viewed as a better prospect is concern over Burns' lack of weight. However, the numbers he posted at the combine having weighed in at 249 pounds eased those fears to some extent. Burns' playing weight was thought to be closer to 230 for most of his collegiate career.
This lack of size could be an issue in terms of his pass rush, as he isn't expected to generate much production from speed-to-power moves or bull rushing. However, he's so good at cleanly disengaging from blocks that this might not be a major issue for him. He didn't have much success against top tackle prospects Jonah Williams and Jawaan Taylor with FSU, though, so teams will need to be convinced he can have success against NFL-caliber linemen.
The larger concern is whether he can hold up against the run initially. If not, he might be limited to a situational role until he bulks up. However, his ability to move well laterally and shed blocks could make him effective in this role anyway.
Burns also only has limited coverage experience, which could be a minor concern for any team planning to use him as an outside linebacker in some sets.
Plenty of draft experts are high on Burns and his pass rushing potential. If the Jets move back, but not too far, they could land themselves a potential difference-maker off the edge while also acquiring additional picks to fill some of their other holes.
But it remains to be seen whether Burns will be productive right off the bat or will take some time to find his feet at the pro level.