Florida State does not have a lot to feel great about this week after a frustrating 24-3 home loss to Virginia Tech. Offensively, coach Willie Taggart and QB Deondre Francois weren’t able to get a whole lot of anything working.
But if there’s any optimism in the building, it should be centered around pass rusher Brian Burns. Our very own Jon Ledyard did a wonderful job of profiling Burns’ performance in yesterday’s Draft Class Heroes column.
Ignoring the fact that Jon cast a little bit of inadvertent shade in my direction, (ahem…appreciate that, big guy!) I would love to dig a little deeper into Burns’ chop/spin combination from Monday night. It illustrated all of the things that make Burns a buzzy prospect.
On 3rd down and 18 yards needed to convert, the Hokies lined up in a 3×1 formation with QB Josh Jackson in the gun. From there, it was all about Burns.
At the snap, it’s important to identify that Burns does have a slight false step getting of of his stance. You can see he rocks and resets his inside (left) foot upon movement, which actually takes away from his explosive get off from the line.
This is a common wart for young pass rushers and certainly an amendable offense. It makes the rest of the rep more impressive, considering Burns is able to win this impressively despite having a sub-optimal release off the line.
Burns takes three hard vertical steps up the field, attacking the outside shoulder of freshman OT Christian Darrisaw. Darrisaw’s pass set is sloppy, he fails to gain depth on his kick slide and as a result is forced to hinge prematurely. At four yards of depth, Darrisaw has been pressured into turning perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.
Burns has opened the opportunity to work back inside.
Goodness gracious. Burns’ fourth step is his plant step. A hard outside push, what follows illustrates just how explosive and sudden his lower half is.
The swiftness of his transition out of that plant of the foot and the subsequent pivot off of his left foot to totally displace his frame across the body of his blocker and into the B-gap is a delight to watch.
Don’t blink. If you do, you’ll miss three hand counters in succession. The feet and agility enable Burns to transition out of the gap. But it’s the hands that allow Burns to fully win this rep.
The first rush counter is the chop. As Burns addresses Darrisaw from his outside stem, he extends his left (inside) arm as though he were going to stab at Darrisaw’s outside shoulder. But that progresses into a sharp chop across the forearms, popping his blocker’s hands down to his hips at their lowest point before recovery.
The chop is beautifully timed! To greet an offensive tackle’s stun with a downward chop is hard enough, let alone doing it as the first in a group of three successive counters. With Darrisaw’s hands dropped to his hips, the avenue is now clear to work back inside.
Burns’ second counter is a club. As he whips his shoulders across the face of Darrisaw, he violently throws his extended right arm into the ribs of the tackle. This is an intentional teaching point, done with the intent of ensure the blocker’s ability to redirect and slide in any effort to ride the spin into interior help is mitigated. Perhaps that club could land a little higher on the shoulder to prevent any hand fits on Burns’ frame, but that’s nit-picking.
Finally, the finishing touch. Burns rips through contact after uncovering in the B-gap, forcing QB Josh Jackson to his left.
You missed it, didn’t you? It’s easy to, don’t worry. After Burns lands his club into the ribs of Darrisaw, he sustains his extended hand on the torso of his defeated blocker. Why? Because as Darrisaw pivots inside, he looks to extend his arms. This is in an effort to negate the rush and push Burns past the target.
Burns’ established hand on the body allows him to pop upward with that same right arm that clubbed open his pathway. The rip is compact but again influences Darrisaw’s hands. As Burns’ forearm dislodges the tackle’s grip, Burns also extends his right arm away from his body. This allows for a complete disengage.
The chase is on.
Draft analysts and scouts often refer to tilt. What exactly is “tilt”? Looking it up in the dictionary will likely yield this photo of Burns.
This is unbelievable lower body mobility, especially relative to his blocker. Indianapolis Colts 2nd-round pick Kemoko Turay offered similar lower body bend, which catapulted him up the board. Burns is younger, medically cleaner and potentially more explosive. You can do the math.
There’s more than one way to measure tilt and flexibility, however. Burns shows off the most prominent for pass rushers in this rep: ankle flexion. At Burns’ deepest point in his redirection of pursuit, his right (outside) ankle has produced greater than 75 degrees of lateral lean.
EDITOR’S NOTE: That is very, very good.
The Sum Of Several Top Traits
Carrying as much speed as Burns is able to and stay collected after such a violent whip across the face of Darrisaw is impressive. So, too, is his precision to land hand blows as such a rapid pace while on the move. There’s a lot to like.
With so many plus qualities illustrated in just one play, it’s quite easy to see why Florida State’s Brian Burns is regarded as one of the best EDGE prospects eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft.
With one game under his belt, Burns appears on his way to establishing himself further as a blue chip prospect.