One of the more under-the-radar needs for the Bengals this offseason is a defensive end.
Michael Johnson is expected to leave, Carl Lawson is coming off a torn ACL, Jordan Willis doesn’t have a counter move, the team just missed on signing Shaq Barrett, and Carlos Dunlap is now 30 years of age.
Sure, it still has the potential to be a strong unit, especially with the emergence of Sam Hubbard in Year 2. But if the Bengals go on the clock in Round 1 and a defensive end is the best player available, they should strongly consider drafting him.
In the case of The Ringer’s latest mock draft, that man is Brian Burns:
11. Cincinnati Bengals: EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
There’s no such thing as too much pass rush. Cincy’s defensive line already boasts established stars in Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, an up-and-coming talent in Carl Lawson, and 2018 third-rounder Sam Hubbard, but the chance to add an explosive edge presence like Burns would be tough to pass up. The former Seminole blew the doors off the combine, measuring in the 94th percentile in athleticism among NFL edge rushers with a 4.53-second 40-yard dash time and a 36-inch vertical jump at 249 pounds. He’s got a quick first step and rushes with rare bend, giving him the chance to develop into an elite rusher in the NFL.
Burns is a 6-5 defensive end who finished first-team All-ACC at defensive end this season with 10 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Burns, who is 249 pounds, would need to bulk up to play in Cincinnati’s 4-3 defense. But if nothing else, he could be a situational pass-rusher as a rookie that even occasionally lines up at outside linebacker.
Burns broke out onto the college football scene in 2016 with 8.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in just eight games, earning him Freshman All-America honors. That dropped off in 2017 when he recorded just 4.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in 13 games,
Burns is widely projected to go in the 10-20 range of this year’s draft, and some think he could sneak inside the top 10.
Would you be happy with Burns as the 11th overall pick?