I can’t recall the last time I’ve heard so much animosity toward a team holding the first-overall pick about a player that they are presumed to be drafting. Nobody was saying that the Arizona Cardinals are terrible and Kyler Murray should force their hand and either trade out of the pick or trade him after drafting him.
Several people already, however, have commented on the Cincinnati Bengals and have, either directly or indirectly, advised Joe Burrow to do whatever is in his power to ensure that he does not play his career with the team that has finished at the bottom of the AFC North for the past two years.
That includes a former quarterback who was in his position, Steve Bartkowski, who was drafted first-overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 1975. He said that he met Burrow over the weekend and told him this personally, even though “they’re Ohio guys”, and he admitted he “might’ve offended them”.
“If it’s the Bengals, I think I’d pull an Eli Manning”, he said of his advice to Burrow. In 2004, the San Diego Chargers drafted the younger Manning brother with the top pick, but he and his family pushed for a trade, and by the end of the day he was a member of the New York Giants, who had drafted Philip Rivers a few selections later.
“I said [to Burrow], ‘you’ve got a chance to do that. That’s happened”, referring to players being able to negotiate where they are drafted, noting that John Elway had done the same thing as well when the Indianapolis Colts tried to get him under center, ultimately ending up with the Denver Broncos.
Burrow, the LSU quarterback who is coming off one of the great college seasons in history, was asked about all of this yesterday, and the many commentators who have publicly spoken against the Bengals and the possibility of their drafting him.
“I do have leverage”, he admitted when prompted. “They have their process and I have my process. We haven’t even gotten to the Combine yet. There’s a lot of things that happen leading up to the draft and a lot of information gathered”.
Of course, none of this means anything. It’s overwhelmingly likely that the Bengals will draft Burrow and he will be fine with it. There’s also a reasonable chance that they even develop into a good team. It’s not as though they have been uniformly terrible. They went to the playoffs five consecutive years with a couple of division titles not so long ago.
Still, it’s a somewhat rare scenario in which there is a pretty clear, consensus first-overall pick at the quarterback position who seems set on going to a franchise that has historically been very bad. At least the Cardinals have won some playoff games in the past 20 years, I suppose.