The Cincinnati Bengals have reportedly removed the suspense from Joe Burrow’s Thursday evening by informing him they are going to choose him with the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Jeremy Rauch of Fox 19 Now reported on Wednesday morning the team contacted the Heisman and National Championship-winning quarterback and told him he was indeed going first overall.
While the Bengals haven’t confirmed the report, head coach Zac Taylor did also talk on Wednesday about the strong relationship the team and Burrow have forged. Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin had very positive things to say about Burrow as well in a recent interview. Tobin said he’s seen aspects of real leadership from the former Ohio State and LSU quarterback. He added he believes Burrow is a quick study, saying that he “loves the challenge of preparation – the mark of a lot of good players.”
If Cincinnati does go through with a choice most of the NFL has thought they made make since they clinched the first overall pick, Burrow’s hometown wants everyone to know most are willing to turn into Bengals fans.
“I think a lot of Athens is open to being Bengals fans,” Burrow’s youth coach Tom Vander Ven said in a recent interview. “If Joe was in that uniform, you’d see a lot of Bengals colors around here on Sunday.”
Nathan White, who was Burrow’s offensive coordinator at his Athens, Ohio, high school said he saw the mark of a leader and superstar even back then, as the quarterback took a program that was average to a state championship. He thinks Burrow did the same when he played for LSU and could also enjoy similar success with Cincinnati.
White added there’s an aura around Burrow that changes his teammates and makes them play better, stressing that he’s someone who can change a program and turn a franchise around.
The Bengals certainly need that after one of their worst seasons in decades. The team won one game in 2019 after firing long-time coach Marvin Lewis and bringing in rookie head coach Taylor. The quarterback position was a revolving door situation last year with Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley splitting time.
After Dalton began the year as the starter, he was benched for Finley so the team could see what they had in their rookie QB. Apparently having seen enough from Finley after three starts, the veteran was given the reins back. This offseason, Dalton — who is in the final year of a big contract — told the media he’d be willing to return to the Bengals for one more season, even if it meant being a backup to Burrow.