Q: To no one’s surprise, Brian Burns declared early for the NFL Draft. What do you expect his departure to mean to FSU’s defensive end position? Is it a loss that group can overcome in the short term?
GENE: Burns was a special athlete, but he also was a bit of a one-trick pony. He could be a dominating pass-rusher, but seldom made much of an impact in stopping the run. I really don’t expect a major dropoff at defensive end despite his departure. Florida State has recruited well at this position, and there is plenty of young talent ready to step up.
People are quick to forget that Josh Kaindoh was the nation’s No. 1-ranked defensive end in the 2017 recruiting class. He showed flashes of his enormous potential as a true freshman behind Burns and Demarcus Walker. In 2018, an injury sidelined the former five-star defender for spring practice and limited his participation last fall. Janarius Robinson, Dennis Briggs Jr., Xavier Peters and Malcolm Lamar were all highly regarded recruits that have the potential to compete for a starting spot. So there’s both talent and depth at defensive end. Experience is a bit on the light side, but all things considered, this position should be just fine.
COREY: It’s definitely time for Kaindoh to step up. Dude certainly looks the part. He is a giant. But he battled an injury (or injuries) a season ago and made hardly any impact at all. He’s going to have to take a big step forward. All of those guys are. Because other than Burns, I thought the FSU defensive end position was a real disappointment in 2018. Nobody else did much of anything consistently. Which made it easier to block No. 99.
Well, not too easy, of course, because my man led the country in QB hurries! So losing Burns is obviously going to hurt the defense. And now it’s a position group that has really proven nothing at all as we head into 2019. I don’t believe they will be able to replace his production, but maybe some of these young guys Gene mentioned can step in and at least ease the loss a little bit.
ASLAN: Maybe this is a two heads are better than one situation? I don’t think any one player on FSU’s roster can replace Burns’ production, but that poor guy was playing every snap. A combo of Dennis Briggs and Xavier Peters can stay fresh and get close to being the disruptive force their predecessor was. Also, Marvin Wilson and Robert Cooper are going to be a load to handle inside, which will open up opportunities to stunt the ends or blitz linebackers to rush the passer.
IRA: Burns is a significant loss as a pass-rusher, but I really like the young talent at that position, particularly Briggs and Peters. They both played four games or less, which means they could maintain their redshirts, but they displayed plenty of potential. I’m very eager to see what they look like this spring. I also like the improvement Janarius Robinson showed last season. People forget that he was pretty raw when he came in to FSU, so his best football is ahead of him.
What Kaindoh can do as a junior will really be the million-dollar question. If he’s healthy, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be a dominant force up front — he has all of the physical tools, and he’s exceptionally intelligent. It’s definitely time for him to start living up to his potential.
Adding to the point Gene made earlier, I thought Burns’ lack of size and strength was a problem at times. His desire to get upfield and his inability to set the edge sometimes led to major rushing lanes for opposing ballcarriers. Other than Peters, these other defensive ends bring a little more size to the position, which should be a good thing — even if you’re trading some of the explosiveness.