After the unexpected and tragic loss of his mother to a heart attack last October, Artie Burns Jr. declared for the NFL draft following his junior season with the Miami Hurricanes. Burns was a two-sport star in Coral Gables, excelling as a hurdler on the track team as well as the gridiron.
Burns was a two year starter on the Canes defense. He was limited primarily to special teams during his freshman year, averaging over 26 yards on ten kick returns. As a sophomore, Burns posted 40 tackles, two sacks and six pass breakups. His junior season garnered All-ACC second team honors after leading the conference with six interceptions to go along with 36 tackles, five passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
Draft guru Mike Mayock ranks Burns as the fourth best cornerback in this draft class in his recently revised positional rankings, ahead of William Jackson, Mackensie Alexander and Kendall Fuller. Most draft pundits expect Burns to be selected somewhere on Day 2 of the draft, likely between the middle of the second and third rounds. There appears to be a decent chance he is available when the Ravens go on the clock with the 70th pick.
Burns has good length at 6'0" 193 pounds and long arms. He possesses sub 4.5 second speed and the cocky demeanor needed to thrive as a press corner. His natural ball skills and soft hands may be his greatest strength. Burns is also adept at baiting quarterbacks into bad throws and has good burst to close on the ball.
The main area to improve upon is his technique. Burns is a raw cornerback who is undisciplined at times and shows inconsistent effort. He is also prone to pass interference penalties. Tape shows some stiffness in coverage, but Burns looked fluid in drills at the Combine.
If the Ravens decide to draft Artie Burns, they would hope secondary coach Leslie Frazier can improve his technique now that he is dedicated to football full time. Depth in the secondary is a top area of need for the 2016 Ravens season. It is entirely possible that there will be a run on cornerbacks between picks #15 and #35, leading the Ravens to draft a pass rusher or offensive lineman in the second round. If that scenario plays out, Artie Burns would be a great project corner with ballhawk skills to draft in the third round.