Joe Burrow might have officially replaced Andy Dalton as the Cincinnati Bengals’ starter, but there is at least on NFL GM who isn’t convinced the rookie quarterback is all he’s cracked up to be. In fact, according to a recent story from Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report, that GM believes Burrow is similar to another first-round quarterback in Alex Smith. The same GM believes there are reasons to be “concerned” about just what the Bengals’ rookie quarterback is going to be able to do in the NFL.
“I have concerns. He does not have a lot of power or strength in his arm at all. He is a one-year producer. Love the brain, like the short accuracy. He is Alex Smith-like, and Alex was the No. 1 pick in the draft,” the anonymous general manager said in a recent interview, as Chiari reported in his piece.
The GM isn’t the first to raise concerns about Burrow’s arm, but even it he doesn’t have a cannon, he’s found a way to make the most of his strength. Last season, his second with LSU, he completed an unheard-of 76.3 percent of his passes for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns. He threw just six interceptions. The year before, after transferring from Ohio State, his numbers weren’t nearly as gaudy, but he still threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 16 touchdowns to just five interceptions.
Burrow is also a mobile quarterback, running for over 300 yards both seasons. He added 12 touchdowns on the ground in 2018 and 2019 combined.
Alex Smith also had very good numbers in his college days. In fact, his final two years with Utah were somewhat similar to Burrow’s, if not as eye-popping. His sophomore year, Smith threw for over 2,200 yards, 15 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. The next season, he threw for just under 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
As Chiari points out, the big difference between what Burrow did at LSU and what Smith did at Utah is the quality of opponents. Utah had not yet joined the Pac 12 and was instead in the mid-level Mountain West. The level of talent in the SEC is good enough that the conference set a record for the number of players taken in the first round from member schools in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Chiari also pointed out that Smith has had a successful career in the NFL, including three Pro-Bowl appearances. He also posited that if Burrow has the same kind of career Smith had, it would be considered a disappointment for the Bengals.