We won’t know, but they might have been frustrated to see William Jackson III go one pick earlier, but athletically, Burns is superior, with the kind of build and speed that warrants a first round pick. That said, he isn’t just raw, he’s bad right now. Burns has no clue what he’s doing, struggles to position himself and execute his assignments, and is frequently having to use his speed to try and recover from mistakes. He is not ready for the pro game at all. But if the Steelers believe they can work with him, coach him up and develop him, then the upside is through the roof. Good luck though, as he’s such a project to invest a first round pick with. His play to this point does not warrant this high a selection.
From a football perspective, it would have been preferred for Burns to return to college for his senior season and continue to improve a very raw game as it stands right now. However, it is understandable given his personal situation away from the field to look to begin earning from a pro contract. With his dad incarcerated and his mother having passed away, Burns not only has custody of his two younger brothers, but a son of his own that he is raising as well. He’s an outstanding athlete and a track star in the hurdles. At the moment, that speed doesn’t fully translate to the field in pads. Without knowing he has that ability, it would be possible to miss it while watching his film. The straight line speed is good, but he negates it at times by taking poor angles, roundabout routes to the ball carrier and lacking sharp quick-twitch changes of direction. He doesn’t really look like a natural out there at corner, and might just lack the ideal football IQ and feel for playing the position that could always leave him as a perennial prospect. What he certainly has is superb ball skills, like that of a wide receiver. Burns does a great job when in position to attack the ball in the air, adjust his body, and grab the ball at full stretch. That resulted in Burns being one of the leaders in the nation for picks, with 6 interceptions in 2015. His athletic traits and receiver-like ball skills are hard to ignore and could be worth the risk despite a lot of very poor and inconsistent film.