LSU quarterback Joe Burrow enjoyed one of the most remarkable seasons of any player in recent college football history after leading the Tigers to a perfect 15-0 record and a National Championship. He threw for a remarkable 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns along the way.
Burrow is the presumed top pick in the 2020 NFL draft to the Cincinnati Bengals, but will he be the consensus QB1 by the time April rolls around? Maybe not.
According to NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brook’s latest position rankings, it’s Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa who holds the top ranking on his quarterback board. Granted, this is Brooks’ initial positional rankings for the 2020 draft, but barring any negative injury updates on Tagovailoa’s hip, there’s little reason to expect a change. The games are over. The tape has been studied. There won’t be anything to base a shift off of except for the NFL Combine and pro days, which usually have little-to-no impact on a quarterback’s final grade.
It’s certainly surprising that Brooks has Tagovailoa ranked ahead of Burrow, but it isn’t entirely shocking. The Crimson Tide signal-caller was considered the top prospect in the class at the start of the 2019 college football season and had he stayed healthy this year, may still be the consensus No. 1 overall pick despite Burrow’s miraculous year.
Is Joe Burrow a one-year wonder?
The biggest issue that will face Burrow over the next few months is the concern that his 2019 season was the product of current Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s innovative passing game. There’s never been a leap in production like the kind Burrow had between 2018 and 2019; Brady was the only variable that changed during that time. In 2018, Burrow threw for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions in just two fewer starts than he had last season.
Was Burrow a one-year wonder? It’s impossible to say. His tape is as impressive as any quarterback who’s entered the NFL in a long time. His pinpoint accuracy and composure in the pocket are traits that usually lead to success in the NFL. He also displays an exceptionally high football IQ; his ability to go through his progressions and locate the weakness in the defense is top-notch.
The good news for Cincinnati is that even if they shift their attention to Tagovailoa at No. 1 overall, they’re going to land a fantastic quarterback. It’s almost impossible to screw this up. In fact, overthinking the process is the only way for the Bengals to get themselves into a troubling situation.
Conventional wisdom says take Burrow and don’t think twice. That’s what the Bengals will do, regardless of whether the narrative around Burrow slowly begins to shift as April approaches.