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Comparing Artie Burns to other first round cornerbacks in the 2016 draft class

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How did Steelers rookie CB Artie Burns perform in 2016 compared to the other CBs who were drafted in the first round?

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AFC Championship - Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected cornerback Artie Burns, from the University of Miami, with the 25th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. At the time Pittsburgh was on the clock, four other cornerbacks were already taken off draft boards and only two athletes remained that were legitimate players the Steelers could draft – Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander and Miami’s Artie Burns.

Jacksonville, who had the fifth overall selection, decided to take the nation’s best overall corner in Jalen Ramsey from Florida State. If you watched film on Ramsey, or took a minute to check out his college statistics, you would have seen that he was the most polished and NFL ready defensive back in the entire draft.

Before the New York Giants were on the clock, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to trade their ninth overall selection to the Chicago Bears in return for their eleventh overall pick. The Bears selected Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd with the ninth pick. New York was on the clock at ten and decided to draft Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple, when a more polished athlete in Vernon Hargreaves III was still on the board. This ended up being a fantastic trade that the Buccaneers executed. They got their corner two picks after the Bears and acquired a fourth-round pick (No. 106) from the trade.

There was no doubt that Hargreaves III was the better athlete overall and that the Giants took a huge gamble with Apple. With three cornerbacks already off the board with eleven selections down, it wasn’t until the Cincinnati Bengals were on the clock with the 24th selection, one pick away from the Steelers, that another corner was drafted.

In the hearts of Steelers fans all over, the organization was going to draft University of Houston’s William Jackson III with the 25th overall pick – and it would have been a fantastic selection. While the Bengals had no reason to draft yet another corner (they did it the last few seasons), they decided to do it anyway. Some believed that this was because the Bengals wanted to shove it in Pittsburgh’s face after still being sore over the AFC Wild Card matchup, in which the Steelers came out victorious.

Either way Pittsburgh drafted Artie Burns a few minutes later and it turned out to be the right choice. Let’s take a look at these five cornerbacks that were taken in the first-round and compare it to the last cornerback taken in Artie Burns and see how everyone compares to the Miami product.

5th Overall Pick – Jacksonville Jaguars

CB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State

Ramsey had an up and down rookie campaign. It wasn’t until week 15 that he registered his first interception against the Houston Texans. A week later against the Tennessee Titans, Ramsey intercepted backup quarterback Matt Cassel and returned the football 30-yards for a pick-six. Fun Fact: Ramsey is the only cornerback in the entire 2016 draft to return an interception for a touchdown.

Final Statistics: 65 total tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions – 1 defensive TD, 14 pass deflections

Artie Burns Statistics: 65 total tackles, 0 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, 13 pass deflections

Advantage: Artie Burns – Very slightly but the fifth overall selection should not have stats this close to someone who would have been drafted in the second-round, if it wasn’t for the Bengals drafting Jackson III.

10th Overall Pick – New York Giants

CB Eli Apple, Ohio State

Like I mentioned above, the Giants could have selected, who at the time was the better athlete in Vernon Hargreaves III, instead they took a gamble with Apple, but did it pay off? Apple’s 2016 season wasn’t too spectacular but he did generate some plays that really made him stand out. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 13, he recorded his first interception of his career on Ben Roethlisberger along with a fumble recovery to help his team get on the score board.

Final Statistics: 51 total tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, 7 pass deflections

Artie Burns Statistics: 65 total tackles, 0 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, 13 pass deflections

Advantage: Artie Burns – By a lot. Reason? Apple was outmatched in the majority of the games he played in while Burns held his own toward the end of the season. The statistics above prove that Burns was the better defender overall.

11th Overall Pick – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida

Hargreaves ended up being the most targeted cornerback in the 2016 NFL draft. The Buccaneers got some splash plays from the rookie but overall he struggled in coverage.

Final Statistics: 76 total tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, 9 pass deflections

Artie Burns Statistics: 65 total tackles, 0 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, 13 pass deflections

Advantage: Artie Burns – Slightly. Hargreaves III recorded 76 total tackles and was targeted way more than any other cornerback in this first-round draft. According to Pro Football Focus, Hargreaves has allowed 71.8 percent of his passes to be caught with a passer rating of 100.4 when he is targeted. Burns has allowed fewer than 60 percent to be caught when thrown his way.

24th Overall Pick – Cincinnati Bengals

CB William Jackson III, University of Houston

Selected by the Bengals one pick before the Steelers were on the clock, Jackson III had high praise in the entire 2016 draft. He rose up draft boards every week, especially after the NFL Combine. The only problem for Jackson was that he suffered a torn pectoral and was placed on the injured reserve on September 4th, 2016.

Final Statistics: N/A

Artie Burns Statistics: 65 total tackles, 0 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, 13 pass deflections

Advantage: Artie Burns – No brainer here. William Jackson III did not even play a single regular season game. In 2017 expect these two athletes to really show which organization selected the better athlete.

25th Overall Pick – Pittsburgh Steelers

CB Artie Burns, University of Miami

“Artie Burns – Mike Tomlin – Pittsburgh Steelers.” Those are the words that are forever engraved in my mind. When head coach Mike Tomlin called the young athlete on Draft Day, I was ecstatic after hearing what this young man went through. Burns’ story is just incredible but also very sad. He lost his mother a few years ago unexpectedly and his father is in jail. Burns has a girlfriend and a child he has to take care of on the daily along with his siblings.

Being a track star in high school as well as a college cornerback suited him very well in his rookie campaign. He finished the regular season with three interceptions, 65 total tackles and 13 pass deflections. His future is extremely bright in the Steel City and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for the 2017 NFL season.

Conclusion:

All five of these cornerbacks are special athletes. They seemed to do extremely well in their rookie campaigns. As for William Jackson III, I actually am a little curious to see him suit up in 2017. It will be his redemption season. If you haven’t already, take a look at Burns’ Top 5 Plays of 2016 and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Along with being a Film Room analyst on BTSC, Nathaniel is also the founder/editor-in-chief of SteelCityReport.com. Check out more of his work HERE.