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What truly attracted the Pittsburgh Steelers to Artie Burns in the 2016 NFL Draft

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have been accused of reaching for CB Artie Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but there is a reason they targeted Burns in the 1st round.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If you've followed the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout the lead up to the 2016 NFL Draft, and the aftermath which followed, you have heard it all in regards to the team's selection of cornerback Artie Burns with the 25th overall pick in the selection process.

Whether it was the big boards who saw Burns as a second-tier defensive back who should be drafted in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, or the knee-jerk reaction of experts who saw the Steelers taking him in the first round as the ultimate "reach" selection.

Fans were left wondering what the team saw in Burns. He plays a physical brand of bump press coverage, something the Steelers do little of in the current defensive scheme. Burns is extremely young and raw with little chance of being a rookie contributor outside of a backup role.

So, what exactly attracted the Steelers to Burns? Sure you heard Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert gush over their prized draft pick, but what was the aspect of Burns which had him picked over a player like Mackensie Alexander? Burns' agent, Melvin Bratton, answered that question for fans when he spoke to Jason Mackey of DKonPittsburghSports.com.

"You're getting a mature kid at 21," Bratton told Mackey. "A lot of times you draft a kid in the first round and have to wait for him to grow up, worrying about what's going to happen. Not Artie."

Could Burns' maturity be the defining characteristic in his selection by the black and gold? Bratton gives some concrete examples of what might just separate him from the pack of defensive backs still available when the Steelers selected 25th overall.

"Teams run kids' credit," Bratton explained of teams looking at potential draft pick's credit and how responsible they are with their money. "If he has $300,000 or $400,000 in debt already in four months time, that's a sign for teams to shy away from a kid."

"He just bought a vehicle yesterday," Bratton said. "I would not let him buy anything. He's driven it for one day. I would not let him go out and do anything foolish."

The vehicle? A Cadillac Escalade.

"He wanted something a little bit more family-oriented," Bratton said.

This is all part of the team meeting with prospects off the field before the draft process. Although a meeting does show interest in the prospect, what they come away with in the meeting could determine what they truly believe about the prospect as a person and a player. And as we have found out with Burns, it could be the difference of being a first round pick and a second round pick.

"They wanted to get to know him off the field," Bratton said. "They wanted to spend time as a group, so they can get a group feel about this kid. He came off well, apparently."

Burns passed the Steelers tests prior to the draft, and now comes the question of whether he will pass the physical test when he steps on the field on the NFL stage. Many will wonder if the team made the right selection with the 25th overall draft pick, but it will be up to the coaching staff and Burns to show he is the future of the cornerback position in Pittsburgh, and not a player the team "reached" to draft.