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With the 2021 NFL Draft 19 days away, a lot of outlets have been doing re-draft exercises from past drafts. The NFL Throwback account on YouTube recently did one on the 2016 NFL Draft in the first round, and that was a draft where the Steelers and Kevin Colbert missed big time by selecting cornerback Artie Burns at 25th overall out of Miami.
Since Colbert joined the Steelers front office in 2000, he's only had two picks in the first round who were considered flat-out busts -- Jarvis Jones in 2013 and Burns, who's with the Bears currently in a backup role.
The Steelers reportedly wanted to select cornerback William Jackson III, but he was picked by the Bengals at 24th overall, one pick ahead of the Steelers.
At the time, draft analysts felt the Steelers reached for Burns, as he was projected to go in the second round. The Steelers were in desperate need of a cornerback at the time and five years after the Burns pick, it does look like the Steelers made a desperate move by drafting Burns. He definitely wasn't the best player available and the Steelers picked more based on need.
The NFL Throwback re-draft has the Steelers selecting free safety Justin Simmons instead of Burns at 24th overall. Simmons ended up getting drafted in the third round at 98th overall by the Broncos, and of course, he's now one of the best safeties in the league. The Steelers had needs at safety as well during the 2016 draft and ended up selecting Sean Davis in the second round, who's now with the Colts and his time in Pittsburgh was just OK at best.
The Steelers also had Mike Mitchell at free safety at the time, so in hindsight, Simmons certainly would have been a big upgrade. At the same time though, if the Steelers drafted Simmons in 2016, the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade would have never happened. So in the long run, it didn't hurt the Steelers at the safety position by selecting Burns.
You could also go with Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard as a re-draft option for the Steelers instead of Burns, as Howard was selected in the second round at 38th overall by Miami, just 15 spots after the Steelers picked Burns. Howard has been named to two Pro Bowls and was nominated as first-team All-Pro this past season, as he led the league in both interceptions (10) and passes defended (20). In five seasons, Howard has 22 interceptions and 55 passes defended.
Burns started 32 of 56 games in his four seasons with the Steelers and recorded four interceptions and 27 passes defended. In his final two years in Pittsburgh, Burns started just seven games and had no interceptions and one pass defended.
Burns signed with the Bears last March, but suffered a season-ending ACL injury in training camp. Burns re-signed with Chicago last month on a one-year deal.