Joe Burrow is the easy favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year this coming season.
The No. 1 overall pick will be just one of two quarterbacks guaranteed to kick their careers off as starters. That said, Burrow will have the weapons to make that award his.
Slotting in as the starting quarterback for a two-win Bengals team that will return one of the league’s most dynamic receivers in A.J. Green, there’s no denying Burrow is set up better for a breakout rookie season than any other potentially impactful rookie.
Here’s how Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash explained his ranking of Burrow as the favorite for OPOY.
“Yes, the team that picks No. 1 does so for a reason, but the situation Burrow finds himself in is nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. In fact, assuming veteran wide receiver A.J. Green has a clean bill of health, he, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins could form one of the most dangerous wide receiver trios in the entire league.
“From 2012 to 2018, Green never ranked lower than 11th in single-season PFF grade, and Boyd has been the ninth-highest-graded slot receiver in the NFL since 2018. The Bengals also made a fantastic move to kick off Round 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft by snagging Higgins, who has the size and ball skills that would have made him in the WR1 conversation in past draft classes. At 6-foot-4, Higgins has an enormous catch radius and would routinely overpower defensive backs in tight coverage — he was the only wide receiver in the class to put up an elite two-year grade on such instances,” Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treah wrote.
While they did mention his elite receiving corps, they failed to also note that Burrow will have a vastly improved offensive line led by 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams. Add in a 23-year-old former AFC rushing leader in Joe Mixon, and this team has the potential to be at least .500.
In a division with the dominant Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals will have a shot at downing the Browns and Steelers, both of which will enter the season with unrealistically high expectations.
As for Burrow, entering his rookie season after throwing 60 touchdowns and shattering the record book at LSU, he’ll have the chance to put his leadership to the test at the sport’s highest level, captaining one of the NFL’s most notoriously underrated franchises.
The No. 1 overall pick will have unreasonably high expectations from a fanbase craving their next star quarterback, but he certainly may be able to prove his winning ways from the start in Cincinnati given the team he’ll be surrounded by.