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Artie Burns drafted by Steelers with No. 25 pick

The Steelers filled a need by grabbing unheralded cornerback Artie Burns late in the first round.

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With the No. 25 overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers took cornerback Artie Burns and get themselves one of the most exciting defensive backs in this year's draft class.

Burns was an elite two-sport athlete at the University of Miami, garnering All-American honors as a hurdler for the track and field team, while becoming one of the best corners in the conference.

After thriving in a reserve role as a true freshman, he started 23 of 25 games during his sophomore and junior seasons. Burns flourished last year, finishing with 36 tackles, five pass breakups, one fumble recovery and an ACC-leading six interceptions. It was the most picks by a Hurricane since Sean Taylor had 10 in 2003.

His junior campaign was even more impressive considering the incredibly sad personal loss he suffered last October when his mother, Dana Smith, tragically died of a heart attack at age 44. She inspired him throughout his youth and was a huge reason he matured into such an exceptional person, both on and off the field.

"She built this character in me," Burns told Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun-Sentinel this month. "She taught me I could compete when I was sick and she taught me I can handle whatever I have to go through. She helped me get ready for this moment."

Following his mother's death, the 21-year-old was suddenly thrust into the role of father figure and caregiver -- not to mention star football player. Burns, whose father has been in jail for a decade, became the legal guardian of his two younger brothers, Thomas (age 16) and Jordan (age 13). To support Burns and his family, a donation fund was set up by the University of Miami and reportedly raised $40,000 within the first six hours.

On the gridiron, the former Hurricane has the prototypical size, ball skills and aggressiveness to be a big-time cover corner at the next level. His ability to attack in coverage and locate the football is perhaps his strongest trait. In this play below, he shows off his outstanding body control and range to secure the interception along the sideline.

artie burns int

And then there is jam-dropping pick against Wake Forest, which earned Burns a spot on SportsCenter's nightly Top 10 list.

artie burns wake forest

A fiery competitor, Burns is never one to back down from any challenge on the playing field. He possesses the brash, cocky demeanor of a shutdown corner and backs it up with impressive stats. He gave up just two touchdowns over the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus, and allowed an NFL passer rating of 40.8 in 2015. To put that number into perspective, if a quarterback throws the ball into the ground on every play, he ends up with a passer rating of 39.6.

One of the best playmakers available among the defensive back prospects, Burns is more than just a speed and hands guy. With broad shoulders, long arms and a strong frame, he's also a competent run defender and a surprisingly effective open-field tackler.

Burns is probably NFL-ready from a size and speed standpoint, but it's clear from the game tape that he still needs to work on his technique in coverage and his down-to-down consistency. Still, given the adversity he's already had to overcome, there is little doubt that the former Hurricane can develop into a quality starting corner at the pro level.

The Steelers finished No. 30 in pass defense in 2015 and struggled to stop opposing teams with the duo of Antwon Blake and William Gay.