What goes up must come down, eventually. The last image I have of LSU QB Joe Burrow he was smoking a celebratory cigar in the locker room after leading the Tigers to victory against Clemson in the 2020 National Championship game. The final performance of Burrow's collegiate career was the culmination of the greatest season by a quarterback in college football history. Everything Joe has touched recently has turned to gold, but he better hold on to that rabbit's foot a little longer. His luck may just be running out.
Joe Burrow is an All American success story. He is a testament to hard work and perseverance. Burrow endured a red-shirt season while at Ohio State, all while patiently waiting for his opportunities to compete for playing time with the other talented QBs on the Buckeyes roster. He performed admirably when called upon, but there always seemed to be a better option standing in his way. After reading the handwriting on the wall, Burrow decided to transfer to LSU in search of greener pastures. Turned out to be a great decision.
After a solid junior season as the Tiger's starting QB, Burrow enjoyed a magical senior season. He was the best player on the most talented team in the country, resulting in a national championship season for the LSU Tigers. Joe's unbelievable production garnered him the Heisman Trophy and all the fanfare that comes with it. Burrow went from a projected third or fourth round draft prospect to begin the season, to the consensus first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Like most situations in life, this reality comes with it's share of pros and cons.
On the bright side, Joe Burrow is about to get paid. All of the hard work is about to pay off. The self discipline required to spend countless hours honing his craft on his own time has resulted in his rapid ascension as a prospect. His respected reputation has been the well earned result of a lifetime of good decisions and behavior.
Burrow checks most of the boxes for a NFL QB prospect. The requisite height and frame combination preferred in a NFL QB. His arm strength is merely average, but anticipation and accuracy are where Burrow stands head and shoulders above his competition. He is a tactician with his preparation, both pregame and presnap. Burrow also possesses excellent mobility, and uses it intelligently.
Depending on how you look at it, one con on Burrow's resume is the fact he is already 23 years old, slightly older than your typical rookie franchise QB. It would only make sense if his game was more mature and advanced than his younger opponents, and the good news is it was.
Sounds like a near perfect QB prospect. So why should any potential NFL suitor give pause before selecting Joe Burrow? It's possible that Joe Burrow's magical senior season may have been a little too good, the confluence of the perfect storm.
Burrow was surrounded by NFL caliber talent at LSU. Joe was able to utilize a stable of supremely talented skill position players destined to play on Sundays in the near future to decimate opposing SEC defenses, all while enjoying the security of a superior offensive line. How many teams selecting at or near the top of the first round can provide Burrow with a comparable supporting cast? The Cincinnati Bengals, who currently own the first overall selection, definitely can't.
Without the huge talent advantage surrounding him, will he possess the intestinal fortitude necessary to continue developing his game? Many seemingly can't miss QB prospects fail to prosper at the NFL level. They never recover from the beating endured while operating behind a subpar offensive line. Repeatedly trying unsuccessfully to perfectly place the football in impossibly small throwing windows to skill position players not talented enough to gain separation. They lose their internal clock; the innate instinct that tells them when it's time to get rid of the football, and they develop happy feet as a result. Players like Peyton Manning endure and learn from the experience, while players like David Carr never recover.
Unless somebody makes them an offer they can't refuse, the Cincinnati Bengals will be making the first selection of the 2020 NFL Draft. It has been reported that the Bengals are enamoured with Joe Burrow.
How will Burrow handle the overwhelming responsibility of resurrecting a franchise that has not yet tasted the sweetness of a Super Bowl championship? He will have to lead a rebuilding offense into the hostile environments of the rugged AFC North, facing the imposing defenses of the Steelers, Ravens, and improving Browns. Not an easy task for any young QB, especially one accustomed to enjoying a talent advantage basically everytime he stepped on the field.
Only time will tell, but based on the evidence I have witnessed thus far, somehow I have to believe he will be up to the task. He may prove to be a pain in the Steelers side for years.
The next step in Burrow's improbable journey starts this week at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.