DJ Burns Jr. to the NFL? NC State big man drawing interest as OT prospect, per reports

DJ Burns has led NC State on an improbable run during the 2024 NCAA Tournaments, with the Wolfpack upsetting Duke for the second time in March to get to the Final Four.

Burns — a 6-9, 275-pound big man — averaged 18.3 points, 5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game over NC State’s four NCAA Tournament wins. He has flashed great footwork, a smooth left-handed finish near the basket and strong passing skills that could make him a contributor in the NBA.

But basketball might not be Burns’ only path to a future as a professional athlete. The NFL might be an option for him as well.

NOH: Ranking Shaquille O’Neal, Zach Randolph and other NBA comps for DJ Burns

DJ Burns to the NFL?

Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager reported April 1 that Burns would draw interest from NFL teams if he participated in a Pro Day and workout after the Final Four.

Naturally, the timing of the post led many to wonder whether Schrager was simply trying to capitalize off the hype surrounding Burns with a timely April Fools joke.

But the NFL analyst told Awful Announcing that the post was “not a gag at all.”

“He absolutely could garner NFL scouts to a workout,” Schrager said of Burns.

IRVING: Why NC State’s DJ Burns may go undrafted despite NCAA Tournament performance

If Schrager’s assurances aren’t enough, Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy revealed that he heard similar things from NFL talent evaluators.

Again, some will note that Nagy’s post about Burns came on April 1, but barring an elaborate partnership with Schrager to pull off an epic April Fools’ Day joke, it seems like the NFL interest in Burns is real.

It’s easy to understand why NFL teams like Burns. He’s naturally tall and bulky, giving him the size and length needed to hold up as an edge protector. He also possesses great footwork, which would allow him to be a master technician — if he picks up on the position quickly enough.

Burns would be a project, but NFL teams have taken on former basketball players with little to no playing experience before. Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas are a few of the best basketball players to turn to the NFL. More recent names on that list include Mo Alie-Cox, Rico Gathers and Eric Swoope.

Not all players that transition become success stories, but some do, so why not give Burns a try if you need a young, developmental tackle with star potential?

MORE: Breaking down DJ Burns’ NIL deals

Has DJ Burns ever played football?

Yes, Burns has played football during his life. No, it wasn’t recent.

Burns revealed in an appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show” that he played tight end and defensive end during his younger years. He didn’t play past middle school, as he got his first basketball scholarship in eighth grade when he was 6-8.

Basketball remains Burns’ main focus, and he is hopeful that he can make it to the NBA.

“It’s definitely the main goal,” Burns said. “But I try to stay focused on the moment. We gotta win these games first.”

But if things don’t work out at the NBA level, Burns can take solace knowing that he has a fallback option in another sport.

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