It’s widely assumed, and for good reason, that Joe Burrow out of LSU will be the first player taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, which is now under two weeks away (get excited, folks. Yeah, it won’t be quite the same, but it’s still the draft). Coming off one of the great seasons in college football history, the smart money is on him being the next starting quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals, who hold that top pick.
The question is what comes after that. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that they are not familiar with winning, even though they’ve been rather bad the past two years and have missed the playoffs with losing records for four years running. They did make the postseason five years in a row prior to that—longer than any streak by the Pittsburgh Steelers in decades.
It wasn’t so long ago that we were speaking of the Bengals as having one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL. They still have talent, though injuries have deprived them from using some of that talent much of the time. Can Burrow put them back over the top?
“I just want to get drafted to a good team, good organization that is going to maximize my talents”, he recently said. “I’ve won everywhere that I’ve been. I’ve never had a losing season in sports from the moment I was 5 years old. I’m not a loser. I just want to go somewhere where I can win”.
Some might interpret that as a shot at the Bengals, especially given speculation earlier in the offseason about whether or not he might try to avoid going to Cincinnati, rumors and theories that he would put to bed at the NFL Scouting Combine.
I don’t think that was the case, rather saying that he expects to win anywhere he goes. “Teams are picking at the top for a reason”, he admitted. “And I feel like, like I said before, I’ve won everywhere that I’ve ever been. I feel like if anybody can do it, I can do it”.
Cincinnati did win when they drafted Andy Dalton in the second round in 2011, though that also had a lot to do with drafting A.J. Green in the first round. Green is still here. Dalton is, too, though it’s uncertain whether or not he will be in September, and if so, if he will be starting.
The AFC North should be interesting this year. The Steelers tend to be perennial contenders. The Baltimore Ravens can make a case that they are the best team in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns—I know they were supposed to break out in 2019, but they should be better in 2020. They improved the offensive line, with more help to come in the draft, and odds are they’ll have better injury luck. It really depends on who Baker Mayfield really is. And whether or not Myles Garrett bludgeons anyone mid-broadcast.