When you’re the No. 1 overall pick, you’ll almost certainly be among the favorites for a rookie of the year award.
That’s the case with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who is ranked No. 1 in NFL.com’s ranking of the top Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates.
Provided his monstrous senior season at LSU was not just a product of then-passing game coordinator Joe Brady’s system, Burrow should be the clear-cut favorite for this award. A.J. Green didn’t play last season, but assuming he returns to the team on the franchise tag (which he has not signed as of the publishing of this post) or a long-term contract (the two sides have until July 15 to work out a multi-year deal), he’ll be back as a top target for Burrow. One thing we saw with Burrow last season is that he loves to isolate slot targets and throw with placement to them. Tyler Boyd fits that bill as a strong, capable safety blanket. Top it all off with rookie Tee Higgins, who can stretch the field and win those tight-window jump balls outside the numbers, and Burrow seems set up to be relatively successful right away, despite some concerns about the Cincy offensive line.
The article also highlights that since 1990, only four players have won the Heisman Trophy and Offensive Rookie of the Year in consecutive seasons. However, three of those have happened since 2011 and were also quarterbacks in Kyler Murray, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton. The other was running back Eddie George in 1996.
In addition, this award has been won by NFC rookies for 13 straight seasons. The last AFC player to do it was quarterback Vince Young in the 2006 season.
And while the NFL has become a pass-heavy league, only two quarterbacks have won the award over the last seven seasons (Murray and Dak Prescott).
For the Bengals, only two players have ever won this award in wide receivers Carl Pickens (1992) and Eddie Brown (1985).
For Burrow, he certainly has the firepower to do some serious damage through the air this season, including wide receivers A.J. Green, Tee Higgins, John Ross, Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate, as well as one of the league’s best young running backs in Joe Mixon.
The one thing going against Burrow is he’ll play behind an offensive line full of major question marks. If that unit can just be serviceable in 2020, Burrow will have everything he needs to put up the kind of numbers that will earn him an award or two.