A lot of football fans had their eyes glued to their tv sets last night watching the NCAA championship game between LSU and Clemson. The former ultimately proved victorious, with yet another dominant performance by Joe Burrow, their quarterback, in what will be his collegiate swansong before moving on to an NFL team in a few months.
And presumably, barring something stunning, he will be the next quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals, who hold the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They managed to edge out Washington for the worst record in the league, going 2-14 on the season under first-year head coach Zac Taylor.
While there are certainly other great players who will go in the top five, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Burrow will be drafted at the top of the class. That is typically how it works when there is a standout quarterback and the team drafting first overall is in need of one. considering that the Bengals benched Andy Dalton and then put him back in the lineup, it’s fair to say they need a quarterback.
Even the Pittsburgh Steelers are expecting it. Clearly watching the game last night, Vince Williams Tweeted that it’s “gonna be cool sacking Joe next year”. While he didn’t specifically express looking forward to sacking him, captain Cameron Heyward praised the young quarterback, saying that he has “nothing but respect” for him.
Gonna be cool sacking Joe next year
— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) January 14, 2020
If you ain’t @Joe_Burrow10 fan after this season, then I don’t know you. Dude has balled out all year! Nothing but respect!
— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) January 14, 2020
Overall, the Bengals have actually had strong continuity at the quarterback position, essentially revolving around two starters for most of the 21st century, going from Carson Palmer to Dalton, who has now been there for nine years.
While Dalton is under contract for 2020, however, he has no guaranteed money due to him. He signed a six-year extension, and the signing bonus can only be spread out over the span of five seasons, so the team could release or otherwise move him this offseason with no ill effects to their cap hit.
Not that cap considerations for Dalton would have any bearing on whether or not the Bengals wanted to or were willing to draft a player whom they might view as a surefire franchise quarterback. Burrow set the FBS record for the most total touchdowns and passing touchdowns in a single season, the most passing yards in a title game, and the most total touchdowns in a title game. Not bad at all.
Meanwhile, both the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns also have young quarterbacks, entering their third season. The Browns selected Baker Mayfield first overall in 2018, but there was far less consensus on him than there already is on Burrow. Lamar Jackson was the final pick of the first round that year, and is likely to be named the MVP of this season.