9 Reasons Why the Bengals May Want to Pass on Joe Burrow

| February 14, 2020 10:47 am PDT

The Cincinnati Bengals have the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They’re also talking with longtime quarterback Andy Dalton about trade options.

Suffice it to say, a new era is entering Ohio, and its name is Joe Burrow. At an insane -10000 at some NFL betting websites, I’m not sure there’s much of a point in fighting it.

The LSU star is about as concrete of a lock to go first overall in this year’s draft as it gets.

But if you’ve seen the 2020 NFL Draft 1st pick odds lately, you’d quickly realize there is some incentive in betting on anyone other than Burrow. As noted, his odds are disgusting, and betting on him is a legit waste of time.

Betting on other players to go first overall is also probably fruitless, but the odds demand our attention. Also, in the interest of playing devil’s advocate, there are some reasons why the Bengals shouldn’t draft Joe Burrow #1 overall.

You can decide how silly they are — and I will still stand here and tell you that he will be the pick — but they’re worth going over.

There Are a Lot of #1 Picks Who Bust

You don’t need to be JaMarcus Russell to be a bust. But if a team is taking you before anyone else, you better not be awful. In fact, it’s probably only fair that you’re at least an asset to your franchise.

So, true mega busts or semi-busts, I don’t really care. The point is the money, the hype, and the pressure that are associated with the top pick in the NFL Draft can be a bit too much.

Throughout history, for one reason or another, it just hasn’t worked out.

JaMarcus Russell is one of the worst #1 picks in NFL Draft history. Heck, it’s arguable he owns the top spot all to himself. But he’s also just one of many first overall draft picks that didn’t meet expectations.

Players weren’t ready for the money, the spotlight was too much, they were over-drafted, they dealt with injuries, or they just weren’t good enough. Burrow is only human, and being the top pick in the draft could come with numerous paths to failure.

That alone doesn’t mean the Bengals shouldn’t draft him or that Joe Burrow will be a bust, but just imagine the trade package they could get if they traded down.

Tua Tagovailoa Still Exists

Why draft Joe Burrow when a more proven commodity — and arguable superior talent — exists in the same draft class?

Burrow had the better 2019 and has no health concerns, but a lot of scouts would admit he wasn’t at all on their draft radar prior to breaking out this past season.

Tua, on the other hand, was the consensus top pick for the 2020 draft. The only reason why he isn’t now is due to injury.

If issued a clean bill of health and the long-term concerns aren’t enough to hold anyone back, wouldn’t you prefer the better prospect who is a little more proven?

We know that Colin Cowherd would. Make of that what you will.

There Are Other Quarterbacks in This Draft

Okay, so Tua is too great of a risk? I get that, but taking anyone with the first pick feels risky (as noted), and banking on Burrow’s one amazing year translating into a decade of success doesn’t come without potential pitfalls of its own.

One option for the Bengals? Trade down and accumulate picks and try to snag a different quarterback in this draft class. I know the Bengals don’t want to trade down, but they should at least listen.

Justin Herbert certainly comes to mind, while guys like Jacob Eason, Jordan Love, and perhaps even Jalen Hurts could be interesting additions to a roster that is a little talent-starved.

Cincy has bodies to go to war with on offense. What they don’t have is a good defense and a reliable offensive line. Trading down and seeking out a different quarterback lower down the draft could help them build out a more complete roster — and faster.

Andy Dalton Isn’t That Bad

He’s not elite, but Dalton is still just 32 and is not the main problem with the Bengals. Even last year, Dalton flashed the same solid ability he’s exhibited for years with the franchise.

Despite not having top wide receiver A.J. Green for literally all of 2019, Dalton still nearly took down the Seahawks in Seattle back in week 1 (418 yards and two touchdowns) and also hung two more scores and 311 yards on the 49ers the next week.

The wheels eventually came off due to protection issues, a terrible defense, and a lack of reliable talent around him, but Dalton showed in bursts he can still play.

Quarterback Free Agency Is Nuts

Not down for another year of Dalton? I totally get that, so the Bengals can still trade down (or draft Chase Young) and go get a free agent quarterback.

There will be no shortage of viable upgrades, as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and so many others are all scheduled to hit the open market.

Landing some of those guys is clearly more realistic than others, but the Bengals could conceivably upgrade over Dalton and turn what would be Burrow into a stud pass rusher or a slew of extra draft picks.

Cincy’s Defense Needs a Ton of Help

I’ve touched on it quite a bit already, but the Bengals are desperate for all kinds of help on the defensive side of the ball. It is true that you need to get a quarterback when you don’t have one, while bypassing a sensational prospect like Burrow sure is difficult.

However, the Bengals are not a quarterback away from competing in 2020 or really anytime soon. They need to go back to work inside the trenches, generate a pass rush, and find a way to slow down the run.

Trading the top pick (or drafting Young) will instantly bring in help for the defense and help the Bengals repair more than just one position on this team.

Heisman Trophy Winners Don’t Translate Well

The history of Heisman Trophy winners moving onto the NFL and crushing it isn’t very long. Some succumbed to fame, others turned to drugs, and there are a few who had their careers derailed due to injuries.

But a lot of them flamed out due to eye-popping numbers (and not actually sustainable talent or work ethic) helping them coast to the pros.

It’s difficult to assess when a player is benefiting more from a system and/or the weapons around him, but there’s little denying that Joe Burrow had some help in 2019.

The numbers are insane, and the kid is talented. But he’s another Heisman winner that we need to be a bit wary of. Are we falling in love with the production, or do we truly love the prospect?

Some Heisman winners lived up to or even exceeded expectations. But then there are guys like Tim Tebow, RG3, Sam Bradford, and Johnny Manziel.

Which version will Joe Burrow be? That’s a question the Bengals need to be sure to answer correctly.

Joe Burrow Could Be a One-Year Wonder

Heisman aside, we need to pause and consider that Joe Burrow is living off of one year of amazing football. Yes, the production is insane, next-level type of stuff. He went and won a title, too.

But boy, did this kid rise fast.

It’s still just one season. Burrow had a great team around him, good coaching, a terrific system, and amazing weapons. He got hot, he stayed hot, he broke records, and he just kept on winning.

But he wasn’t this good the year before, and at one point, he had to leave Ohio State to get his chance. Perhaps he was a late bloomer. Maybe 2019 was the perfect storm.

One year of insane production can have you go either way. The Bengals need to be on the right side of that debate.

The Bengals Are Simply Terrible

One more nugget for you, as to why the Bengals shouldn’t draft Joe Burrow, is the fact that they stink.

They have a second-year head coach calling the shots. They could be losing their best wide receiver. Their top tight end is never healthy. They have regressed on the o-line. And their defense is atrocious.

Assuming Burrow comes in, picks up the offense instantly, and establishes a nice connection with his weapons, he’ll probably be asked to win games left and right.

From day one, Burrow will be tasked with carrying a bad team, he’ll be running for his life, and he’ll need to endlessly pile on points due to a terrible defense letting him down.

Maybe that turns him into a god as a rookie. Or it marks the beginning of the end as he crumbles under the pressure and his body breaks down due to a relentless physical beating.

The point? A bad franchise can turn even the best of prospects into mush over time. Cincinnati could be so bad that they ruin Joe Burrow — even if he’s great.


Everything I mentioned above still won’t be enough for the Bengals to actually deny themselves the prize of such a fun prospect like Burrow.

Still, it’s all reason for Cincinnati to refrain from just blindly picking the guy everyone assumes they should. The holes on the rest of the roster are real. The risk is real.

The advantage of stockpiling picks and trying to build an entire team rather than just draft a franchise savior is also real.

Joe Burrow, at this point, is probably the best quarterback in this draft. He’s also probably the right pick for the Bengals. But there truly are some valid reasons for Cincinnati to at least stop and think about this, perhaps a lot more than any draft experts would actually suggest.

You don’t need to agree with anything I say here. But you can bet on it, at least to some degree.

There are going to be all kinds of 2020 NFL Draft props, from the #1 pick (it’s going to be Burrow) to player draft ranges and so much more. Keep tabs on all of it by hitting up our NFL betting blog.

Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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