We can no longer say that 1997 was the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a cornerback in the first round as the team selected Miami product Artie Burns 25th overall Thursday night.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert talked about the team’s newest player immediately after the selection was made.
“We’re proud an exited to draft a cornerback out of the University of Miami, Artie Burns,” said Colbert. “Solid young man, went through a little bit of tragedy this year with his mother passing during the season. he fought his way through that, came out the other side and put together a solid year where he ended up amassing six interceptions and putting himself among the top corners in this draft class.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin also added his thoughts on Burns.
“Natural bump corner and that appears to be something that’s a very natural element in his game,” said Tomlin. “He’s good at the ball, he’s good at the ball down the field.”
Tomlin later added that he considers Burns a “good piece of clay to work with.”
Burns, who measured in at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at 5117, 193-pounds recorded 96 total tackles and 7 interceptions in the 37 games that he played in at Miami. The former high school track star also ran the 40 yard-dash in 4.46 seconds.
While the Steelers apparently didn’t bring Burns to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit, Colbert and Tomlin were both present for his rainy pro day. Burns will be hard-pressed to crack the Steelers starting lineup by the start of the 2016 regular season. He should, however, be able to help out on special teams immediately.
Burns is an outside cornerback and figures to battle Ross Cockrell for playing time throughout his rookie season.
“He needs work,” said Colbert. “He’ll need work on his off coverage. He’ll need work on his zone coverage, but he’s a third-year junior. He’s only played three years, only started two. So there’s a ton of upside with him.”