November 9th, 2019 – In the final moments of the back and forth battle between the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU’s Joe Burrow ran with grit and determination 18-yards to Alabama’s 7-yard line for an emphatic and decisive first down. The moment the celebrated senior quarterback rose to his feet, two things became exceptionally clear: LSU was going to win the game and Joe Burrow was the 2020 NFL Draft’s unanimous number one QB.
Fast forwarding a little more than a month later, on December 22nd – the Cincinnati Bengals suffered their 14th loss of their 2019 campaign, securing the number-one overall pick in that same Draft. A collision course was set.
April 23rd 2020 – Joe Burrow returns home, and with him, an immense amount of hope for the good people that roam Southern Ohio. We can all finally say it – Joe Burrow is a Cincinnati Bengal.
In perhaps the most unconventional draft night ever witnessed, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that with the first overall pick, “the Cincinnati Bengals select – Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU.” If you turned down the volume on your television set, you could perhaps hear the rejoicing cries and exhilarated cheers of a newly energized fanbase.
The draft’s worst kept secret came to fruition. The Queen City welcomed arguably the most exciting passer in College Football history with arms open.
While every mock draft you may have witnessed this spring has near unanimously predicted this union, the selection sent a much needed sense of relief to fans of the Orange and Black stripes.
Burrow accumulated 5,671 passing yards coupled with 60 TDs through the air – a College Football record – throughout his Heisman Winning, National Championship winning 2019 season.
Burrow made this the easiest decision Bengals’ owner Mike Brown will ever have to make. But not all credit for that feeling of “change in the air” belongs to the long standing proprietor of Cincinnati football. Director of player personal Duke Tobin and second year head coach Zac Taylor shepherd the most surprising Bengals’ offseason in quite some time. They spent copious amounts money, acquired free-agent talent, and ensured that when Burrow takes the field for the first time as a professional, he will have one of the game’s most talented receivers lining up with him in AJ Green.
Tobin and Taylor have also masterfully handled the onslaught of criticism launched in the team’s direction. Everything from calls for Burrow to protest his selection to demands for the club to sell the pick. Not a single narrative phased this staff during this lengthy evaluation process.
The loyal fans of the city of Cincy celebrate the selection of their new franchise player tonight by raising their glasses and devouring plates of chilli and spaghetti.
However, there is still extensive work to do. The Bengals’ draft day plans have far more steps to complete. Burrow was the clear and easy choice, but tomorrow night is where the hard part starts.
The Bengals head into the second day of the draft with a plethora of holes to fill on the roster. Joe Burrow could very much use another dynamic offensive playmaker and the defense sorely needs a linebacker to help bring together a semblance of defensive identity. An offensive line that at times looks as if it is being held together by dollar-store duct tape is in desperate need of repair.
Yes, there is more work to do. A lot of work actually. But I leave fans of this club who have been plagued with failure with this resounding message.
Joe Burrow is FINALLY a Cincinnati Bengal.