10 IN 10: CINCINNATI BENGALS
The NFL Draft is finally here. This ‘10 in 10’ series has looked at each team picking in the top ten, starting with the Cleveland Browns last Tuesday and finishing with the Cincinnati Bengals today. For a more considered, in-depth look at the perfect picks for each team check out the good work of my fellow contributors at The Touchdown here:
For the purposes of simplicity, no trades will be considered in this countdown unless they occur in the days leading up to the draft itself. Each article will look at individual team needs before deciding on the right pick for each franchise, whilst also considering some alternatives at that spot.
#1: CINCINNATI BENGALS
With the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select Rodrigo Blankenship, kicker, Georgia. Only joking – whilst that would be an audacious way to screw the pooch in typical Cincinnati fashion, there is only one sensible option for the Bengals: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
A year ago, Burrow would be a mid-round prospect. He stayed in his home state of Ohio to go to college, but found himself sitting behind JT Barrett. When Dwayne Haskins was named the Buckeyes’ starter in 2018, he transferred to Louisiana. It has been the best decision Burrow has made in his career so far. In his three years at Ohio State, he had thrown the ball just 39 times for just two touchdowns. In his first year at LSU, he threw for 2,894 yards and 16 scores. Impressive, but not ‘first round talent’ statistics.
In his senior year, Burrow’s career exploded. In what has been a record-breaking 2019 for him, his finest moment came in the regular season game against Alabama. He was pitted against Crimson Tide quarterback and presumptive #1 pick in the 2020 Draft, Tua Tagovailoa. Burrow threw for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 46-41 shootout victory. It was at this point that people believed there was a new QB1 in the draft rankings.
The Tigers went on to win the National Championship, defeating Clemson 42-25. Although he was sacked 5 times, he threw for 463 yards and 5 touchdowns. It capped off the Cinderella season that Burrow had delivered. From backup to #1 in just two years, his fortunes have turned around immeasurably. LSU has a shaky history with its quarterbacks, but Burrow used it as another source of inspiration to prove the doubters wrong.
In December, he won the Heisman Trophy by the largest margin in the history of the award. Other records were also smashed – his 60 passing touchdowns broke Colt Brennan’s record of 58, which had stood for nearly 15 years. He set the highest passer rating the college game has ever seen (202). Joe Burrow is the real deal.
THE HOME STATE KID
The perceived drawbacks for the former Tiger are his age, and longevity. Burrow will turn 24 in his first league season. He is six months older than third year quarterback for the Jets, Sam Darnold. Has his peak arrived during the college game? Can his progression continue in the NFL? These are valid reservations, but not enough to pass on him.
With every other pick in my #10in10, I’ve suggested the other ways that NFL franchises could go. I won’t do Joe Burrow the disservice of that here. There is simply only one pick the Bengals should make tonight, and it isn’t a kicker from Georgia.
TOM WATCHED HIS FIRST EVER NFL GAME AT AN EX’S HOME IN NORTH CAROLINA IN 2013 AND “ENCOURAGED” TO SUPPORT THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS. ONE BREAK-UP AND FOUR YEARS LATER, HE SWITCHED ALLEGIANCE TO THE JETS AND HAS BEEN OBSESSED WITH THE GAME EVER SINCE. TOM CAN BE FOUND ON TWITTER AT @DOWNTHEMANNYRD