University of Miami

NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper: ‘Late first round’ for Miami Hurricane Artie Burns

Miami Hurricanes defensive back Artie Burns pumps his chest after he intercepts the ball in the fourth quarter as the University of Miami hosts Virginia Tech at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday on Saturday, October 17, 2015.
Miami Hurricanes defensive back Artie Burns pumps his chest after he intercepts the ball in the fourth quarter as the University of Miami hosts Virginia Tech at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday on Saturday, October 17, 2015. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Artie Burns is the only Miami Hurricane underclassman in this year’s NFL Draft.

And judging by what draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., said about Burns on Monday during an ESPN teleconference, the junior cornerback made the right decision to forgo his senior year.

Burns, 6-0 and 197 pounds, is one of five Hurricanes invited to participate in this week’s NFL Scouting Combine that begins Tuesday and runs through Feb. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The other Canes who were invited: safety Deon Bush, wide receiver Rashawn Scott, defensive end Ufomba Kamalu and linebacker Raphael Kirby.

Kiper was asked by the Miami Herald who among the five he expected to be drafted.

“Artie Burns is the main guy — this is your corner,” Kiper replied. “He’s a little too physical in college for the NFL. By that I mean you’re going to get penalized heavily if you’ve got your hands and you’re too in the face of the receiver. You’ve got to be able to back off a little bit and be able to handle what the NFL is asking you to do. I want to see if you can adjust to that. But what works in college doesn’t work in the NFL with the rules the way they are.

“So I would think Artie Burns, though, is a tremendously talented player. His skill-set is arguably as good as any of these guys. I would put him in the late first round. He was in the mix for several teams. I’ll wait on him a little bit until after the combine, but I think he’s a late one, early two.

“Bush [is] more of a mid-round pick. But of all the players you mentioned, most of them are Day 3 picks. Burns is a guy that is going to go very high. I wouldn’t be shocked if he went anywhere between [picks] 25 and 35 to 40.”

Burns, out of Miami Northwestern High School, led the Atlantic Coast Conference with six interceptions this past season, the most by a Hurricane since Sean Taylor’s 10 in 2003. He also had 36 tackles and five pass breakups this season — and is a former national track star in various hurdle events.

Burns’ mother, Dana Smith, died in late October, leaving him with two younger brothers. His father is in prison, and Burns is adamant about taking care of his family.

“… This was a long and extremely difficult decision to make,” Burns wrote in late December, when he announced his decision to enter the draft. “Due to my mom’s sudden passing and my father being incarcerated, I now have custody and my son to raise. It is my responsibility to be the financial supporter of my family needs to continue our day to day lives.”

Bush, known as one of UM’s hardest hitters at 6-1 and 205 pounds, tallied 50 tackles in 2015, with one sack, one interception, six pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.

Kamalu, 6-6 and 297 pounds, started nine of 13 games and had a career-high 47 tackles, with one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Scott, 6-2 and 2013 pounds, is UM’s only player on offense attending the combine. He led Miami in total receiving yards with 695 and five touchdowns in 13 games.

Kirby, 6-1 and 238 pounds, had a team-leading 44 tackles before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee Oct. 17 in the Virginia Tech game, UM’s sixth opponent of 2015. He is not expected to work out at the combine.

    UM’s annual Pro Day, the Hurricanes’ version of the NFL Scouting Combine, has been set from 7 a.m. to noon March 30 at Greentree Field on campus. It is closed to the public.

    Susan Miller Degnan: 305-376-3366, @smillerdegnan

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