For better or worse it sure seems like the NFL is going to have its draft in two weeks. Due to the coronavirus, the league had to cancel holding the draft in Las Vegas. But the NFL seems adamant about holding the Draft virtually.
While there’s drama about how the draft will be held, or if there even will be a draft, there’s no drama around who the Cincinnati Bengals will take with the first overall pick: LSU’s own, Heisman trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow.
Arm Length: 30 7/8”
Hand Size: 9”
2019 stats: 402/527, 76.3 completion percentage, 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns, six interceptions, 10.8 yards per attempt
Burrow didn’t partake in any drills at the combine, he was instead hoping to throw at LSU’s Pro Day which never happened because of COVID-19. So, we’ll have to rely on the film to evaluate Burrow and luckily for him, he put out a ton of good tape this past season.
The first thing that jumps off about Burrow is his decision making, Burrow completed nearly 80 percent of his passes and only threw six interceptions over the course of 15 games. Burrow was in complete control of Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady’s offense and rarely, if ever, made a poor decision with the football.
Burrow has an infectious edge to him that teammates love. Much was made about Burrow getting his bell rung by UCF in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl and turning right around and dropping five touchdowns on the Knights. That’s the kind of stuff that will make his future NFL teammates want to follow him into battle.
Another strength of Burrow is his ability to put the ball in the exact perfect spot. Think about the second touchdown Burrow threw to Ja’Marr Chase against Clemson in the national championship game.
That’s a fade route against press coverage and Burrow drops the ball right into the bucket. We’ve also seen Burrow make spectacular throws on the run which highlight the touch he has on his throws.
The biggest knock on Burrow is his arm strength. Pro Football Focus charted Burrow’s throws outside the hashes and they don’t quite compare to what he did throwing the ball vertically: 30-56, 421 yards four touchdowns and three interceptions.
But NFL head coaches and offensive coordinators are trending toward tailoring their system to highlight the quarterback’s strengths, rather than forcing him to play a style he’ll struggle in. John Harbaugh won Coach of the Year for building an offense that maximized Lamar Jackson’s talents and Jackson, coincidentally, won the league’s MVP because of it.
I can’t think of any way where Burrow isn’t at least a good NFL quarterback. He’s got the football IQ and all the other intangibles you’d want in a quarterback. Football these days is all about decision making and accuracy and Burrow possesses both of those in spades. Burrow moves around in the pocket beautifully and has more than enough mobility to keep the chains moving.
The Bengals have historically been one of the worst run organizations not just in the NFL, but in all sports. Cincinnati has a history of being cheap, though to their credit the Bengals have been active in free agency handing out nearly $150 million in contracts. Key among those was the Bengals franchise tagging AJ Green, one of the best receivers of the past decade.
For better or worse, the NFL Draft begins on April 23.