All that losing finally has paid off: Cincinnati holds the No. 1 pick in the draft for the first time since 2003. And, barring some sort of surprise, the Bengals seem likely to use that pick on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who exploded onto the scene this season by leading LSU to the national title.
Burrow would be fine with that, at least according to his father.
“Yes, we’ve talked about it,” Jim Burrow told TSN 690 radio in Montreal. “I can be in my seat in 3.5 hours from Athens — you know, that’s certainly a positive. You’re always — if you’re the top pick or one of the top picks — that’s the way the NFL draft is set up. You’re not going to get picked by a team that has a great record. So, you know, he’s excited to even be in that conversation. If the Bengals do draft him, he’s going to be happy. And, you know … you’ve probably seen some of his interviews. He’s very confident. And he’ll look at it as a challenge. But he’ll be confident that eventually they can win a lot of games there at Cincinnati. But, you know, the Ohio people are ecstatic about this opportunity, maybe, that could happen. But there’s a long way between now and the draft. That’s for sure.”
Joe Burrow spent his formative years in Athens, Ohio, about 165 miles east of Cincinnati, and began his college career at Ohio State. His father was an assistant for the Ohio University football team. Burrow to the Bengals makes a whole lot of sense.
There have been a few instances of high-profile quarterbacks not wanting to play for the bad teams that have the top draft pick. In 1983, John Elway told the then-Baltimore Colts — who had gone 2-22-1 over the previous two seasons — that he did not want to play for them and would instead play baseball if they drafted him. (The New York Yankees had drafted him in the second round in 1981, and he had played minor league ball for them in the summer of 1982.) Their hand forced, the Colts drafted Elway and then traded his rights to the Denver Broncos for the rights to offensive lineman Chris Hinton (Denver’s pick at No. 4 in the 1983 draft), quarterback Mark Hermann and Denver’s first-round pick in 1984.
In 2004, Eli Manning told the then-San Diego Chargers, who were coming off a 4-12 season, that he would not play for them if taken with the No. 1 pick. The Chargers drafted him anyway but worked out a deal with New York in which the Giants would agree to take Philip Rivers with the fourth pick and then trade him, a 2004 third-round pick, a 2005 first-round pick and a 2005 fifth-round pick to San Diego for Manning.
The Bengals almost certainly will be in the market for a quarterback. Andy Dalton is 32 and at one point this past season was benched in favor of rookie Ryan Finley, who struggled. Dalton has one year left on his contract at a team-friendly salary cap figure, so the Bengals can keep him for a year as a mentor/insurance policy or, perhaps more likely if Burrow is the plan, see if they can get anything for him via trade.
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