Joe Burrow is officially Cincinnati bound after the Bengals selected him No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL draft on Thursday night.
Burrow, the LSU quarterback, is Cincinnati’s first No. 1 overall pick since Carson Palmer in 2003. The 23-year-old is the first player since Cam Newton to win a Heisman Trophy, national championship and be selected No. 1 overall.
Burrow had a record-setting senior campaign at LSU that culminated in winning the Heisman Trophy and national championship. The Bengals are hopeful Burrow can bring some of his winning formula to Cincinnati in the aftermath of an abysmal 2-14 season, which matched their worst single-season record in team history.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor spoke fondly of Burrow being a winner during his appearance on the Bengals Beat Podcast in February. Taylor and the Bengals sat down with Burrow for the first time at the 2020 NFL scouting combine in February and were extremely impressed by Burrow’s football acumen. The initial 18-minute interview reassured the Bengals that Burrow was the right quarterback to take the reins from longtime starter Andy Dalton, who remains on the roster.
“We feel very comfortable with him as a prospect,” Taylor said Wednesday on ESPN. “We talked to a lot of guys, but certainly formed a really good relationship with Joe, and been really impressed with everything we’ve seen from him. . . . He’s as advertised. All the things we heard about him, we saw from our first meeting with him and as we’ve gotten to know him over the last couple weeks.”
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During the two months that proceeded the combine, the Bengals did their due diligence on Burrow and the other top quarterback prospects, including. But the Bengals knew all along that Burrow was their guy – and so did a majority of Cincinnati fans.
Bengals fans advocated for Burrow during the 2019 regular season. Signs campaigning for Burrow could be seen around sparsely crowded games at Paul Brown Stadium during the latter portion of the last year. The 2019 Bengals had their lowest attendance since Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000.
Burrow’s natural connection to Ohio — he grew up approximately two hours and 15 minutes away from Cincinnati in Athens — made the pairing even more fitting.
"Whatever franchise picks me, I'm gonna do what they ask. If they need me to hold a clipboard for the first two years, I'll do it," Burrow told USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Tuesday. "If they need me to come in and start right away, I'll be the best player I can be.
"I'm gonna work as hard as I can to continue this roll that I've been on for the last several games and last year and a half."
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