Brian Burns
Brian Burns has developed into an elite pass rusher. The Panthers have a building block for the future with Burns leading the charge. (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

As Matt Rhule tries to build the Carolina Panthers into a contender, finding a pass rush has already been checked off the to do list. 2019 first round pick Brian Burns is emerging into one of the leagues best edge rushers. It’s time to give Burns the respect he deserves.

The former Florida State product finished his rookie season with 7.5 sacks, 25 combined tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. That was while playing just 43% of the snaps as a rotational piece. One year later, Burns is the leading the Pro Bowl in votes at the defensive end position.

Heading into Week 12, Burns six sacks, 16 quarterback hits, five tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and three passes defensed. He’s now playing 75% of the snaps and no longer is just a third down pass rusher. Burns has turned himself into one of the best defenders in the NFL.

Burns, 22, leads all defensive ends with 29 pressures on the season. ESPN pass rushing statistics also has Burns ranked No. 5 at his position. The young Panthers pass rusher isn’t just collecting sacks. He’s impacting virtually every play.

Burns was a talented player at Florida State. It wasn’t a fluke that he got picked in the first round. In my draft grades, I said Burns was “pass rusher with promise“. With the Seminoles, you could always see those traits. He was a great athlete and super bendy. It didn’t take long to live up to that potential.

After Luke Keuchly retired, the Panthers desperately needed a star of defense. Brian Burns gives them just that. If Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos can develop into stars, Carolina could have one of the most feared front seven’s in all of football.