Looking ahead to April’s NFL Draft, nearly every mock draft projection targets one player as a lock on being the first name called. Quarterback is the most highly valued position in football. Joe Burrow is the most highly valued player from that position in this draft class.
Here’s our scouting report on the former LSU Tiger signal caller. We’ll begin with an overall impression. Next, we’ll throw out a few pros and cons about his game. We talk about who’s a good fit and who might be a bad fit as a team, rate five skills, plus add our reasoning to support Joe Burrow being the number one selection in 2020.
When you play the type of game Joe Burrow played in the BCS Championship, you instantly impress scouts as a big-game quarterback. Burrow showed that type of calmness when faced with every challenge in his career at LSU.
One year ago during his junior season, Burrow rated average at best. Most scouting reports tabbed him a second-tier signal caller with a ceiling potential as a good backup. That changed dramatically after his performance during his senior season.
By the numbers, Burrow’s stock as a quarterback skyrocketed in just one season. His completion percentage rose 20 percent to an astounding 78 percent. The touchdown to interception ration more than doubled, and his passer rating climbed more than 50 points.
Highly prized NFL QB prospects usually have strong statistical numbers. Burrow has the mindset to go with his raw athletic talent. He only played in 10 games at Ohio State, but he was busy in class.
Burrow graduated in three years with a degree in consumer and family financial services. He’s a talented quarterback with a good head on his shoulders. This combination has the potential for NFL greatness.
- Intelligent – There have been dozens of athletically talented me enter the NFL as quarterbacks. No one is saying that anyone in particular was stupid. However, many of the legendary signal-callers have been mentioned as smart students of the game.
Burrow is the son of a football coach, so his football smarts have never really been questioned. He is also learner smart. Burrow graduated from The Ohio State University in three years. As a student/athlete at LSU, he led his team to the top while taking graduate level classes.
- Mobile – As defensive players seem to get bigger yet faster every year, mobility is more than just a benefit for a pro quarterback. Sometimes good foot speed is essential to escape being pummeled into the carpet.
Burrow’s film has shown he is almost as deadly on the run as he is in the pocket. His accuracy numbers were actually a little better. He has a strong pocket presence, critical at the next level, but he is also a mobile quarterback, which makes him even more lethal.
- Big Game Mindset – Heading to the ultimate football stage, every game is a big game in the NFL. Burrow showed an incredible moxie in big college games. He always seemed to be prepared, which is a credit to the LSU coaching staff.
However, when things looked tough, and momentum had shifted to the opposition, Burrow had a knack for big game heroics. He has a penchant for making big plays at the biggest moments. This is an incredible asset at the level he is about to play.
- Small Hand Size – Well, they tagged that disadvantage on Patrick Mahomes as well. All the football world saw what a skilled passer can do, no matter what size his hands are.
- Arm Strength – There is some debate on whether Burrow can throw the long ball. The offensive scheme at LSU was more focused on ball control type passing. However, at the pro level, Burrow’s arm strength may be a question mark.
- Limited Track Record – Burrow played sparingly at Ohio State. His first year at LSU wasn’t anything overly special. It seemed like he exploded on the scene as a one-year wonder. With much of a track record, scouts must assume this is a continuing trend, not a flash-in-the-pan outlier.NFL Comparison
People love to look at incoming NFL players and talk about who they remind them of. Sometimes the eventual performance leaves a little to be desired. But, we still enjoy doing it anyway.
This may be a strong selling point for Joe Burrow ahead of name being called in April. Burrow is like a multi-headed monster. There have been comparisons to Patrick Mahomes because of his small hand size and point guard mentality from the quarterback spot.
He is a big kid that is hard to bring down, bringing a comparison to Deshaun Watson. Watson doesn’t have the accuracy Burrow exhibits. When scouts assess his touch and accuracy, they mention Matt Ryan. Burrow also has a tough-nosed leader mentality that has led to whispers of Tom Brady.
What may be more telling is who his college coach Dabo Sweeney compared Burrow to. Sweeney said that like the great Michael Jordan, a team is never out of the game when Joe Burrow is their leader. Interesting reference if he lives up to that comparison.
Best Team Fit for Joe Burrow
We could honestly put the same team in both spots; best team fit and worst team fit. Cincinnati is screaming for a high-profile QB to sell tickets and put butts in the seats. Burrow is from Ohio and suited up in the Scarlet and Gray to start his collegiate career.
In all honesty, determining if any other team would be a good fit for Burrow depends on a lot of pie-in-the-sky conjecture. Unless someone brings the farm and someone else’s farm with it, Cincinnati is not going to trade the number one draft pick.
That said, the two teams with whispers of being willing to sell their farm and someone else’s are Carolina and Indianapolis. If either case were to materialize, we’d hedge towards the Panthers being the next-best fit after the Bengals. Truthfully, Carolina might be the best-fit that never happens.
The Panthers went down to the Louisiana Bayou and snatched up Joe Brady as their offensive coordinator. Yes, the same Joe Brady that got the most out of Joe Burrow’s skill set. This is the man that was instrumental in pushing Burrow from a probable low-round pick to the first man off the big board.
He did this in one college football season. Certainly the Panthers’ management team might think long and hard about what could happen with this tandem teamed up at the professional level. With Brady on the coaching staff, Carolina would trump Cincinnati as a great place for Burrow to start his career. Problem is, we don’t Carolina has a big enough farm to offer the Bengal brass.
Worst Team Fit for Joe Burrow
While Burrow’s is a home state Buckeye-grown product, the Bengals could equally be a bad fit as much as they are a good fit. Cincinnati is going to need to alter their recent formula, or they will squander what is an otherwise talented athlete.
Looking at another poor fit for Burrow would mean projecting some kind of trade before the draft. That is rumored to be possible, but most of the whispers have come from Carolina. That said, Miami is in an interesting position.
They have the picks to send Cincinnati the farm, plus maybe a chunk of South Beach for the first pick. Most think Miami will be content to stay at the fifth selection and take either Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa.
Well, if the Dolphins made a move for Burrow, which might be the worst fit of any of the 32 NFL teams. Miami is a long way from competing in the AFC East, besides in the NFL. Taking Burrow would be like throwing a quality you QB to the wolves. Now, what’s that say for the prospects of the kid from Bama?
Five Skill Ratings for Joe Burrow
To finish our impressions of the young man who projects to be the first name called at the NFL’s April draft, let’s rate five skills. We’ll score him on these five skills based on the 10-point system and then tell you why we gave him that rating.
- Pocket Presence – Burrow looked very mature at times in the LSU pocket. Even in games against NFL-caliber defensive linemen, he was not rattled. The first downgrade for pocket presence is dancing feet. Burrow stands firm in the pocket with a very mature presence.
- Score – 9
- Arm Velocity – Arm strength and arm velocity are two separate things. Burrow isn’t acclaimed as a bomber with a cannon arm. But, his arm velocity is excellent. This is one trait that might have people comparing him to Tom Brady. His arm moves quickly through the throwing motion, getting the ball out of his hand with excellent velocity. This explains his accuracy.
- Score – 8.5
- Passing Accuracy – This one is pretty simple to explain. You connect on more than three-quarters of your pass attempts, and you’re either throwing nothing but dump screens or you’re accurate with your spirals.
Burrow hit on a mind-boggling 76.3 percent last season. He was somewhat off-the-mark at times during his previous full season for the Tigers, but any time spent watching film proves Burrow has pinpoint passer accuracy.
Score – 10
- Athleticism – This yet another aspect of playing quarterback, where Burrow scores well. He’s not a prototype running quarterback. He doesn’t possess blazing speed or eye-popping agility. However, he is obviously athletic. Combine with good game judgment skills, Burrow is an athletic threat from the QB spot.
- Score – 8.5
- Decision-Making – This is where field presence builds on pocket presence. Being more accurate outside the pocket means he must have made a decision to get there. Burrow picked his moments to scramble.
How he adapts to the decision-making process in the NFL will be a challenge. It might be the most challenging aspect of the transition. On the surface, Burrow is smart and thinks fast on his feet. We give me just shy of perfect on this skill.
Score – 9.5
This is our take on the young man who hoisted the Heisman Trophy as college football’s most talented player. He will follow that accolade with being forever remembered as the first player drafted in a draft class.
Now, there have been a number of Heisman winners and number one draft choices for that matter, who haven’t succeeded in the NFL. Our impressions are that Joe Burrow will be a huge success, whether it’s in Cincinnati or some other NFL city.