2016 NFL Draft: Artie Burns potential late first-rounder, ESPN’s Kiper says

Artie Burns was widely pegged as a second- to third-round pick, but day before the NFL combine cranks up, Mel Kiper Jr. said he thinks Burns could go higher.

“I think he’s a late 1, early 2,” the ESPN analyst said Monday on a conference call. “Burns is a guy that is going to be very high. I wouldn’t be shocked if [he is drafted] anywhere between 25 and 35 to 40.”

Artie Burns intercepts a pass intended for Virginia Tech's Cam Phillips in the third quarter. (Getty Images)
Artie Burns intercepts a pass intended for Virginia Tech’s Cam Phillips in the third quarter. (Getty Images)

Burns, the lone Hurricanes player from 2015 to declare early, is one of five teammates participating in the NFL combine, which runs Tuesday through Monday in Indianapolis. Burns (6-1, 197), a former track star, has the speed to impress scouts this week. It’s his game film that could hamper his stock. In the mock draft he released last Thursday, Kiper slotted Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves, Ohio State’s Eli Apple, Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller and Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander as first-round picks. Burns was not.

Last month, DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline pegged Burns as a third-rounder. Multiple NFL scouts have told UM they believe Burns has first- or second-round potential. As of Monday, Burns was rated seventh among cornerbacks by NFLDraftScout.com and a second- to third-round pick.

However, Kiper said Burns is as talented as the aforementioned potential first-rounders, albeit a bit raw.

“He’s a little too physical in college for the NFL,” Kiper said. “By that I mean you’re going to get penalized. You have your hands, too, in the face of the receiver, have to be able to back off a little bit to handle what the NFL is asking you to do. I want to see if he can adjust to that — what works in college doesn’t work in the NFL with the rules the way they are.

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“Artie Burns, though, is a tremendously talented player. His skill set is arguably as good as any of these guys.”

Burns led the ACC with six interceptions last season. Part of his reason for leaving early is to provide for his family, which was struck by tragedy last October. His mother, Dana Smith, died suddenly at 44, leaving Artie and his two younger brothers.

Kiper said safety Deon Bush should be the next Hurricane taken after Burns – “he’s more of a mid-round pick” – and he doesn’t expect any other UM players to be taken before Day 3 of the draft, which includes Rounds 4-7.

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