The Bengals coaching staff is currently getting prepared for the Senior Bowl. Cincinnati owns the first-overall pick, and while they may not get an up close look at quarterback Joe Burrow in Mobile, they have already begun a preliminary look at the player many expect to be their pick.
To the surprise of nobody, the coaches on offense seem excited.
“He definitely checks off a lot of boxes early on in the evaluation process,” quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. ”He obviously looks like a very intriguing guy.”
“[Burrow] creates on the move. Obviously takes care of the ball. Makes good decisions. You can see that with his touchdown-to-interception ratio (60-6). I got to see him (in real time on TV) in the last two games of the year and then when you watch the tape, you’re seeing the same things.”
Van Pelt, on top of having a solid career as a college quarterback, saw his claim to fame as being Aaron Rodgers’ quarterback coach in Green Bay for four seasons before joining the Bengals for 2018. The fact he was one of the few coaches retained during Zac Taylor’s takeover as head coach speaks volumes about how he is viewed in this league.
With that said, you really don’t need an expert eye to see that Burrow put out one heck of a job application this past season. He ended the 2019 season with 5,671 passing yards, 65 total touchdowns (NCAA record), 60 passing touchdowns (also an NCAA record), completed over 75 percent of his passes and he only had six interceptions on the season. However, it wasn’t the stats that impressed Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.
“He’s got natural pocket feel. He feels it,” Callahan said. “It seems like he never takes his eyes off down the field. He extends the play really, really well. He’s a lot faster than you might assume when you see him running away from all those SEC guys. He’s got incredible up-field accuracy. The ball hardly ever hits the ground in a game, which is rare. He just naturally puts the ball in places where those guys can make plays.”
It is great to see Callahan highlight one of the traits that may end up being Burrow’s biggest plus coming into the NFL. His ability to make something out of nothing by extending plays. Andy Dalton is a mobile guy, but there are times that when he feels the pressure, he tucks the ball away and just looks to escape. Not to mention that Dalton’s accuracy takes a serious hit when he is on the run, which isn’t a terrible knock on him as that is the case with many quarterbacks. However, Burrow’s ability to throw off balance and keep his eyes down field could be one of the biggest reasons we could see improvement from this offense early.
One of the great things about the Bengals having the first pick is that they don’t need to hold their cards close to their chest. They don’t have to worry about a team jumping them for the guy they like, so they can speak more freely than if they had the second pick. That situation creates dialogues from the coaches like this, and this is probably just the tip of the iceberg here.
It seems many Bengals fans view this pick as obvious, but there are still plenty of people worried Cincinnati could possibly screw this up somehow. The more we hear things like this from the coaches, the more it should calm down those fans. As for those still hoping for a silly trade or to draft pass rusher Chase Young, it is only going to get worse as the process goes along.
It is getting clearer and clearer that Burrow is coming back to Ohio.