Brian Burns says adding weight for NFL combine ‘wasn’t easy’

Florida State pass rusher Brian Burns is one of the most coveted edge defenders in the 2019 NFL draft. His commitment to bulking up is a big reason why, even if it wasn’t easy.

The 2019 NFL draft is overflowing with talented pass rushers, several of whom are expected to be selected within the first 15 picks. One of those prospects is Florida State’s Brian Burns, who after a career-best 10-sack season in 2018, is considered one of this year’s most explosive edge defenders.

Burns’ rise up the first-round board shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. He was a dominant player as a freshman at FSU (nine sacks) and has always been regarded as a quick-twitch defender who can blow by offensive tackles almost instantly off the snap. But he’s also undersized — or, at least, he was.

Burns played the 2018 season at roughly 235 pounds, a far cry from the desired weight for edge defenders in the NFL. His weigh-in was one of the more anticipated results from the 2019 NFL combine, and sure enough, he didn’t didn’t disappoint: 249 pounds.

“I met with the nutritionist every day to really put on this weight,” Burns told the Athletic’s Tashan Reed. “At first, it wasn’t working. Then she came back and she was just like, ‘OK, it’s fine. We just got to double your calories.’ So, we doubled the calories. … I was just determined to put that weight on because that seemed to be my biggest knock and my biggest concern to teams. When I set my mind to it, I just got it done regardless of how I was feeling.

“It wasn’t easy, but it definitely was worth it.”

Naturally, NFL evaluators have to wonder whether Burns’ weight gain is legitimate. Will he play at 249 pounds in the fall? Or did he bulk up just to check the measurables box at the combine?

Regardless, it proves he has the work ethic and commitment needed to succeed at the next level, even if he sheds a few pounds between now and then. He also proved he’s still an elite athlete even with another 15 pounds added to his frame. Burns ran a 4.53 40-yard dash and leaped 36 inches in the vertical jump.

Burns won’t be a top-five pick, and he may not even sneak into the top 10. But there’s little doubt he’ll be off the board in the top 20 and will give whichever team calls his name some much-improved juice in their pass rush.