Evaluating The Value: Cornerback Artie Burns

For each of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft picks, Luc Polglaze and Josh Carney will take turns breaking down the value of each pick. Not the overall talent, not the scheme fit. In a vacuum, if the pick matched up with that talent. In essence: was this good value or was it a reach?

Luc kicks things off with his take on Artie Burns.

Coming into the draft, one of the most dominant narratives was whether Pittsburgh would continue their streak of first-round picks without selecting a cornerback. Thursday night, that streak ended. The Steelers called the name of Artie Burns, CB out of Miami (Florida) and brought him in to the Steel City with the 25th overall selection of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Although Burns was sent to the Steelers in multiple analysts’ mock drafts, he was more typically regarded as a second-round selection. He possesses a massive wingspan, at 33 1/4″ arms, allowing him to use his ball skills to his advantage. However, although his length will allow him to find success at the next level, his work against the run is up for debate, and his lean body tended to drop him down the boards.

Our very own Alex Kozora graded him out as a late second-round value. NFL Network Analyst and draft celebrity Mike Mayock said of Burns.

“He’s very raw. I know teams with a third-round grade on Burns and others that believe he could end up the best corner in this draft.”

All things considered, Burns was the 4th CB selected, and although he may have been a reach over Mackensie Alexander of Clemson, filled a need for Pittsburgh.

What will be more up for debate is passing on Andrew Billings, who ultimately fell out of the first round, and Vernon Butler, who fell to Carolina at 30. Both defensive linemen falling were part of a larger trend that saw top talents such as Billings, A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, and Chris Jones fall out of the top 31 choices entirely.

Considering the depth of the class, it’s understandable to see why such players would slide, but for Pittsburgh, the need was there and the choices available. Was the decision merited? From where I stand, I don’t mind that Pittsburgh passed up a deeper position, knowing that they’d have options later as the run continued down the board.

What I don’t love is the reach on Burns. He’s probably a guy who would have been available further down the board, and although I like his 4.46 40 yard dash, I don’t see the value of reaching on him when guaranteed talent at other positions.

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