Despite his feeble throwing power, Joe Burrow was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals with the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
We’re kidding about the first five words of that statement, of course.
Burrow’s arm talent seemed to be the most prevalent “negative” in any pre-draft evaluation you can find on him. Because he chose not to throw at the NFL combine and LSU didn’t have a pro day, we weren’t able to get an official reading on his velocity from the radar gun. NFL teams usually use 54 miles per hour as the passable threshold, but there are some examples of guys who threw a couple mph slower.
You could do the research yourself and calculate Burrow’s true velocity via game tape, but that’s a daunting task. Lucky for us, Tim Dix of Logic Sports did.
Dix reviewed and broke down over 400 throws from the top quarterback prospects of this year’s class to see how they measured up with top picks in recent years.
Through the process of calculating launch velocity and release time based on frame-counting, Dix computed the following for Burrow and the other eventual first-round quarterbacks:
- Maximum Launch Velocity
- Average Release Time
- Trigger Time
Maximum launch velocity and average release time are self-explanatory. Trigger time is something Dix first started tracking last year. Dix defines it as:
...the amount of time it takes a QB to start their throwing motion after they’ve locked on a target.
If you want to know Burrow’s results, we highly recommend you click the hyperlink a few paragraphs up. If you need it again, here it is. It’s that good and you should support Dix’s hard work.
Essentially, the concerns over Burrow’s arm strength have some merit when you compare it to recent first-round quarterbacks, but it’s not at a level that should cause concern. His release time is almost exactly on par with Tom Brady’s estimated time and average when compared to recent first-round picks.
Burrow’s trigger time, on the other hand, is truly elite and is the data point that sets him apart from this class. Dix was mightily impressed with that specifically, and his high-end comparison is also something you’ll want to read for yourself.
It’s true, Burrow doesn’t have the max velocity of a Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen. But as Dix proves, there’s more than one component in quarterback talent to value.