Can Joe Burrow Elevate The Bengals?

This past weekend, the NFL virtually conducted the 2020 NFL Draft. The event started at around 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, when the Cincinnati Bengals (unsurprisingly) selected LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the number one overall pick.

Burrow, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, had as good of a season as he could’ve in 2020. He won the Heisman, and led the LSU Tigers to a national championship on the back of his 60 touchdown passes.

Burrow’s performance vaulted him up draft boards around the league, and as teams took a deeper dive into the film, it became evident Burrow was the guy to go first. His play even got people to start saying that he is the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since Andrew Luck. It remains to be seen if that comes to fruition, but what should we expect from Burrow in his rookie season?

A lot has been made of how “terrible” of a situation Burrow is entering with the Bengals, but I find a lot of that to be untrue (similarly to that of Mel Kiper Jr.).

Burrow is entering the league with a cast of weapons that includes running back Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, A.J. Green, and Cincy’s second-round selection, Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins. There definitely have to be questions surrounding the health of both Ross and Green, but the Bengals also have Auden Tate and Giovanni Bernard if they need some slack to be picked up.

This cast of weapons has Burrow set up to succeed. Now does that make this team good? Not particularly, but what the Bengals did this offseason along with bringing back a healthy Green and Jonah Williams (last years first rounder), you have to think they are a lot better.

And like I said, we will see what happens when the season starts. Because at the end of the day, it could come down to Burrow. The expectations for him will probably be a little unfair with the combination Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson’s instant success, but is it unreasonable to expect him to have a season like Baker Mayfield did his rookie year? I don’t think so.

You may be thinking, “well the Bengals offensive line was trash,” and that’s a valid point. Jonah Williams isn’t going to save the offensive line. But if you look at the numbers, Burrow may be entering the league with a similar offensive line to the one he had in college.

I would guess Cincinnati wins around six games next year, but like I said, who knows. The 49ers went from the second pick to the Super Bowl in less than a year. I am not proposing that as a potential outcome for Burrow’s Bengals, but it will be quite interesting to see if he can eventually make a team that hasn’t had a playoff win in 30 years into a contender.

– Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)

Main image courtesy of Twitter / @stripe_city

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