First it was Tom Brady, then it was Kurt Warner; sooner or later Peyton Manning was bound to be compared to Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
That’s what went down when NBC Sports’ Chris Simms ranked every prevalent quarterback in the NFL last week. Burrow was Simms’ highest-ranked rookie passer, and he explained it through his praise of the first-overall pick.
“It was one of the cleanest films I ever saw of a quarterback coming out of the draft since I’ve been involved in evaluating players and draft talk and all of that,” Simms said. “There’s really not a weakness to his game. He looks like his ceiling could be Peyton Manning. He’s that type of guy as far as being able to process information, his accuracy, his ability to look at one side of the field and flip to the other and read and react in a proper manner.”
Manning was unequivocally the most cerebral field general in modern NFL history. He didn’t have an ounce of escapability and it didn’t matter; he always got the ball out on time and where it needed to go. That pocket savviness is what Simms sees in Burrow as well.
“For a team that won the national championship last year, his pass protection stunk,” Simms said. “He was a master Jedi in the pocket. He really was. He’s as good as I’ve ever seen a college quarterback in the pocket come out in my lifetime. That’s how good he is.”
With his specific level of arm talent and pocket awareness, Manning is not too outlandish of a comparison for Burrow, at least when looking at them as prospects. It’s still unusual for this caliber of quarterback to be mentioned in the same breath as the Bengals quarterback. Perhaps that feeling won’t go away until Burrow starts validating the praise he’s so often given.