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Selection Of CB Artie Burns In First Round Deemed Steelers’ Biggest Mistake Of Past 5 Years

What was the biggest mistake made by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the last five years? Bleacher Report thinks they know.

In a Tuesday morning post by Chris Roling of Bleacher Report, he has the Steelers selection of cornerback Artie Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft as the team’s biggest mistake in the past five years.

Here is the snippet on Burns and the Steelers from Roling.


The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t take long to acknowledge the Artie Burns mistake, declining the fifth-year option on the 25th overall pick in 2016 draft before letting him walk this past offseason. 

Burns got himself removed from the starting lineup before his tenure even ended because he never managed to adapt to the pro game well enough, never mind come close to the expectations of his draft slot. 

In fact, Burns’ playing time went from 99 percent of the snaps down to 30, then just 6 percent over his final two seasons. Over that 36 percent of playing time, he allowed six touchdowns on 29 targets. 

To make it sting all the worse, Burns was the first opening-round corner selected by the Steelers in two decades. That’s not all—William Jackson III came off the board one pick before him and Xavien Howard was the next corner drafted after him.  


It’s kind of hard to argue with Roling on this as Burns certainly was a huge bust for the Steelers. Burns was over-drafted by at least a round and his selection will go down as perhaps one of the worst that general manager Kevin Colbert ever made in the first round during his time in Pittsburgh, with outside linebacker Jarvis Jones being in the running for that dubious honor, as well.

As the story goes, the Steelers wanted cornerback Williams Jackson III in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but they settled for Burns after the Cincinnati Bengals snagged the Houston product one pick before them. Burns just never could find his footing in the Steelers secondary and the Steelers wisely chose not to pick up his fifth-year option ahead of the 2019 regular season. Burns played out his rookie contract with the Steelers but saw very little action on defense during his final season.

If we are talking more than just draft picks here, and it seems like the jist of the B/R article by Roling is, I wonder if more thought should be given to the Steelers playing Sean Spence and Arthur Moats over L.J. Fort at inside linebacker late in 2017 season and after the team lost starter Ryan Shazier to his spinal injury. It makes you wonder how the Steelers’ playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars would have gone that season had Fort been given the starting inside linebacker job weeks before then.

So, do you agree with Roling here and this does the selection of Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft easily register as the team’s single worst decision in the last five years?

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