The Cincinnati Bengals have hitched their wagon to quarterback Joe Burrow, whom they drafted with the first-overall pick last April. While he found some success as a rookie in his performance, there is still a lot of work that must go into this team, and the roster, before they can truly turn things around and come anywhere close to naturally holding the 32nd pick.
And it doesn’t help that Burrow is rehabbing from a torn ACL, amongst other damage in his knee, but he has also been a regular presence for the team at OTAs, all the same, saying that there are a lot of new faces in the building who need to see that he is there and with them. He’s already got the support of the veterans, it seems.
“Nothing average about Joe”, veteran wide receiver Tyler Boyd told reporters during OTAs last week. “He’s going to lead us to the Promised Land. Joe looks great. He looks like he’s ready to play a game right now. I’m not worried about Joe. He makes magic when his number’s called”.
While the Bengals lost A.J. Green in free agency, they used their fifth-overall pick this year to add wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who had a stellar 2019 collegiate season with Burrow at quarterback with the LSU team that won the national title. He now pairs with Boyd and last year’s second-round pick, Tee Higgins, to form what is potentially a very strong trio.
“It’s like, ‘how do you stop these guys?’”, Boyd asked. “I’m pretty sure there are guys already looking across the league and figuring out what guys got and I know we’re one of the teams that guys are going to worry about”.
Boyd has personally been one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL over the course of the past three years. Since that time, he has caught 245 passes for 2915 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. A healthy, more experienced Burrow, coupled with an improved offensive line, should only make everybody more productive across the board.
As for Higgins, who was the 33rd pick in last year’s draft, he caught 67 passes as a rookie for 908 yards and six touchdown, not far from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Chase Claypool’s rookie numbers from last year, albeit with fewer trips into the end zone.
It remains to be seen what Chase can do in the NFL, but he had a truly monster season two years ago, the last time he took the field, in college with Burrow as his quarterback. That year, he caught 84 passes in 14 games for 1780 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Can the offensive line hold up its end of the bargain? That’s the biggest question the Bengals have with this offense. If they get an answer in the affirmative, then I think this group of skill position players paired with Burrow has a lot of potential, to be arguably the best passing offense in the AFC North.