The long awaited preseason debut of Artie Burns proved to not disappoint. Unlike the cornerbacks that were on the Steelers in the past 2 years or so, Burns is a long tall, gifted athlete that can defend well because of his size. Less in the mold of a William Gay and more in the mold of an Ike Taylor.
Burns though, like many other talented prospects, had his flaws coming out of the University of Miami. Whether it was his inconsistent tackling, being overly physical in coverage (doesn't bug me as much), his unfluid hip turn (which could be pointed to his high center of gravity IE lack of bend), high backpedal and his lack of technique in coverage, there was much to be concerned about
These things you could point blame at Miami due to their obvious track record of players performing better in the pro's than they did in college. Maybe it was the fact Artie Burns was a track star and didn't have nearly as much time to work on things like technique.
Regardless of his weaknesses and who's to blame, his strengths are something you can't teach like his height and length, straight line speed and ball skills. Burns was also highly regarded for his ability to bait QB's into horrid throws. His length also helps in regard to defending passes and having a little more room for error.
Perfect form tackle
Out of all the plays I saw Artie Burns make, this one was by far the one that stood out the most. The Steelers CB's can sometimes frustrate us fans greatly with their missed tackles on defense. Well, perhaps the rest of the corners can learn a thing or two from Burns from this play.
Burns isn't in a situation where he is playing man to man coverage or covering a shifty WR in the slot. Instead he's being put into a situation where he can react and attack.
Attack he did. That was a perfect form tackle because instead of putting his shoulder down going for a boom hit, he wraps the receiver up and just throws him to the ground. This is how it's done as he's letting his instincts and eyes do what he does best, attack the ball.
He isn't being asked to play on an island with no safety help over the top (okay that's a bit extreme for a rookie, you get my point though). His level of technique isn't there yet and the Steelers are instead putting him in a situation where he doesn't have a huge amount of responsibility (granted it's preseason and it's vanilla defense).
This is the type of situation I trust Burns playing in the most, especially if he continues to tackle like this.
Attacking with length
What I love about Burns from a measurable perspective the most other than his speed is his long arms. I'm sure I've repeated myself enough, but in case I haven't, I am not a big believer in height being a necessity. I will say that I love a good wingspan, and Artie Burns has 33-inch arms that show up on gameday.
Burns makes up a lot of ground with his length on that play. When you're in a situation and it's 3rd and 7 in the red zone, it really helps to have length like Burns, as it makes completing passes against CB's like him a lot more difficult. There is less room for error on the throw and because of that, Burns is able to jump the route and almost intercept it.
Again I like what he's doing, he's reacting to the QB's eyes and attacking the football.
Losing containment, not so good
Burns had a lot of positives in his debut but if there was one play that irked me when I saw it live more than anything, it had to be this play.
As soon as Burns get's caught peeking inside, the RB is able to quickly cut to the outside as he had a clear lane. Burns needs to stay disciplined and not get caught peeking or else plays like this will happen a lot.
Artie Burns has a solid preseason debut illustrating the ball skills that made him among the top ball hawks in college last year, along with defending with his length in the red zone. I liked that he showed some improvement as a tackler, as that will go a long way to helping the CB's become more adept at tackling the catch. The only bad play really was him losing outside containment on a 15-yard run.
Burns looked solid but made a few mistakes. It's typical for a rookie but the arrow is definitely pointing up with this young man's future. Continue to work on your technique and tackling and you'll be well on your way to contributing as an outside CB.
Burns future looks bright in Pittsburgh.