This offseason has seen a lot of people either strongly imply or come right out and say that they don’t want to see former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow end up playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. Burrow, an Ohio native, is coming off one of the great college football seasons in history as a quarterback, and the Bengals, who hold the first-overall pick, are in the market for one. He has been the presumptive first-overall pick for months already.
And you can probably safely exclude him from the list of people who want to see him “pull an Eli Manning” on the Bengals if they draft him by trying to force them to trade him. He was put in front of the podium at the NFL Scouting Combine yesterday and pretty successfully shot down the numerous reports to the contrary.
Asked about speculation that he might try to hold out if drafted by the Bengals, he said, “I’m not going to not play”, echoing previous comments he has made this offseason, with greater clarity. “I’m a ballplayer. Whoever takes me, I’m going to show up”.
Burrow did acknowledge that some of the responses that he has given earlier this offseason to similar questions have wrung with a certain ambiguity to it, which those who were invested in the narrative of his not wanting to play for the Bengals seized upon. ‘If he were willing to play for the Bengals, why wouldn’t he just come out and say it?’, the line of thinking went.
He told reporters that to do so would have felt presumptuous on his part. “That’s why I’ve been noncommittal, because I don’t know what’s going to happen”, he said, whether you buy that or not. “They might not pick me. They might fall in love with someone else”.
This is not a draft class like 2018, during which there were several quarterbacks who could have legitimately been considered for the first-overall pick before the Cleveland Browns ultimately chose Baker Mayfield, with Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen soon to follow, and then Josh Allen. The only other quarterback being spoken of for first-round consideration is rehabbing from a significant injury.
Burrow also displayed a sense of humor over the draft season, which has a tendency to hyperfocus on minute details in scouting reports and things of that nature. He Tweeted that he was considering retiring because his hands were measured to be on the small side for his position.
“If it’s a glaring issue on film with turnovers, yeah, it’s probably an issue”, he said while at the podium yesterday. “But I didn’t have a lot of fumbles or anything like that, so I just tried to make a little joke about it”.