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NFL Draft Film Room: The best throws of Joe Burrow’s historic 2019 season

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Burrow made some ridiculous plays on his journey to a National Championship last season.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Joe Burrow is filthy.

Plan and simple. Burrow is a ridiculous talent.

There are however still critics. His arm strength has been questioned by some, myself included.

It’s true, he does not have quite as much arm strength as Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa, but he has enough. In the grand scheme of things as long as a certain threshold is surpassed, arm strength is not as important as people tend to think it is. A highly accurate passer with pocket presence and a keen understanding of defenses with a good enough arm is going to be a very successful quarterback in the NFL.

The other complaint you hear about Burrow is that he had to transfer to start. If he wasn’t good enough to beat out J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins, how can he be worth the first-overall pick?

We tend to see athletes as static objects, like a car. You buy a car and it may be reliable or fast or great on mileage. Whatever it is, it is until it starts getting high in mileage and performance deteriorates. Players, too, will regress at a certain point when they have a lot of miles on them, but unlike cars young players sometimes get better before they get worse.

You can see it on Burrow’s tape.

He was better than many give him credit for in his first season at LSU, but he was nowhere near what he is now. Even comparing his play last September to what it was in the playoffs, his development is clear.

When I started evaluating quarterbacks in late October, I thought he and Tagovailoa were neck and neck for QB1 in the class. When I finished Tagovailoa’s evaluation early (due to his injury), the two were still very close, but Burrow kept improving over the course of the season.

Burrow is not a perfect prospect, but as we all know by now, he is the clear pick for the Bengals with the first-overall selection. He has great touch and creates plays by scrambling and keeping his eyes down field.

Let’s take a look at some of his best throws.

On this play, Burrow not only shows how NOT weak his arm is, he demonstrates how good he is with his eyes.

He immediately looks to the left and he keeps his eyes there until the safety on the right hash bites.

It’s subtle. The safety only takes a step to the quarterback’s left. But this turns his hips away from the vertical route on the right sideline. It’s enough to ensure a one-on-one matchup for Ja’Marr Chase and that is a matchup he likes.

Burrow also has the ability to put great touch on his passes.

In this clip, the cornerback has safety help over the top. Even though Burrow’s receiver has gained separation, he can’t lead him too much or the safety will be able to make a play on the ball.

Defenses call this bracketing a receiver. There is one defender underneath and one defender over the top, which means there is an extremely tight window to complete this pass.

Burrow puts the ball right where it needs to be.

Burrow is an expert at putting the ball right where he wants it.

Here his receiver is running deep and covered tightly to the inside.

Burrow puts the ball on his outside shoulder just over the pylon. The receiver has to adjust, but the defender has no chance of making a play on the ball because Burrow put it where only his man could make the catch.

Of course, this works even better when you have a big-bodied player like Thaddeus Moss.

Once again Burrow puts the ball to the outside where only his player can make a play on it. The placement and Moss’ size makes it impossible for Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs to get his hands on the ball.

Of course, one of the most desirable qualities in a modern NFL quarterback is the ability to create a play after the initial play has broken down.

Here Burrow has LSU in the tight red zone and scrambles to his right. He keeps his eyes downfield and almost nonchalantly whips the ball back across his body for a touchdown.

Yes. Burrow has a lot of time to throw on this play, but why does he have so much time?

He has all of that time because Georgia is not really trying to rush him. They are rushing three players and spying him with a fourth.

When defenses pressure him, he makes them pay by quickly completing accurate passes into tight windows or scrambling and creating with his legs, so teams would drop as many players into coverage as possible.

Why does he have so much time?

It is because they are afraid to rush him, but guess what...it doesn’t matter.

He takes his time, keeps looking downfield, and still doesn’t have a player open so he zips a ball in between two defenders for a touchdown.

So let’s get to some of that: Burrow creating.

This is admittedly not a play you’re likely to see on any highlight films. It’s only a seven-yard gain, but it should have been a sack for a loss of six.

Burrow shakes off the blitzing rusher and scrambles to his right. The Alabama defense comes in hot pursuit, but just before reaching the sideline, Burrow is able to get the ball to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and keep the play alive.

Of course, sometimes a quarterback has to stay in the pocket and take the hit.

That’s what Burrow does here. Clemson has an unblocked defender heading right for Burrow on the blitz.

Burrow knows it, but he also knows that Clemson is blitzing another rusher from the right which leaves Moss wide open for the touchdown. All he has to do is stand and deliver.

Zac Taylor didn’t watch Burrow’s Oklahoma game live because he took his son to see the Harlem Globetrotters. I would imagine that what he saw that night was pretty similar to what the rest of us saw out of Burrow.

In this clip he starts to feel pressure. Realizing that he can’t escape the pocket, he steps up. While running forward he turns his body to the left and delivers a ball downfield to the wide open Chase.

He demonstrates great pocket presence, keeps his eyes down field, and throws the ball from an absurd body position.

Here Burrow scrambles and keeps his eyes downfield. He finds his man and throws the ball while jumping out of bounds and getting smoked by Oklahoma linebacker David Ugboegbu. What really stands out about this play though, is that Terrace Marshall Jr. has a defender right underneath him.

Burrow throws an incredible ball, leading Marshall ever so slightly despite the very odd position he was in when he threw it.

This was a huge play for LSU and stands out as one of the most amazing throws in college football history.


Burrow is an incredible player who does some really special things with the ball in his hands. The Bengals are about to have one of the most dynamic young players in the game under center. He makes huge plays with his arm and uses his athletic ability, great vision, and a superior understanding of defenses to do it.

This is an exciting time to be a Bengals fan.