It is no secret that the Bengals drafted one of the most promising quarterback prospects to come out of college football in awhile. Joe Burrow had one of the most prolific seasons ever for a college quarterback in 2019, and he did it running through the SEC gauntlet and facing some of the toughest defenses the NCAA had to offer.
This has led the folks over at Pro Football Focus to start Burrow out as a tier three quarterback in the NFL. The context is important here. There will undoubtedly be fans upset because of the way this sounds, but Tier one only has Patrick Mahomes and Russel Wilson in it as quarterbacks who can play at a high level regardless of their supporting cast. Tier two houses names like Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Tom Brady and Drew Brees as guys who are more likely to elevate their teams.
Here is their description of tier three:
Volatile or conservative quarterbacks who will rely even more heavily on supporting cast and playcalling. Tier 3 quarterbacks can post top-10 production in any given year in the right situation.
Names that share this tier with Burrow include Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Baker Mayfield, Jimmy Garoppolo and Dak Prescott. This isn’t terrible company to be in considering these rankings are supposed to be based on their career as a whole and not just last season. This means Burrow should have an easy time moving up to at least the second tier if he can string along a couple of solid seasons in a row.
Here is what Pro Football Focus had to say about Burrow’s ranking:
It’s a new era in Cincinnati with No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow taking over after posting the highest single-season grade of the PFF College era. Burrow’s accuracy, pocket presence and overall playmaking ability made him the best prospect in the draft, and he has the skillset to produce at the next level. While Burrow was certainly surrounded by outstanding talent at LSU, his 2019 season may be the best in college football history, as he never had a down game and elevated his play as the season progressed.
That may be the most encouraging sign for the Bengals, as Andy Dalton was a fine quarterback for many years, but Burrow has more upside and has shown the ability to rise to the occasion in crunch time. Drafting Burrow was the right move for Cincinnati — now it’s just a matter of continuing to build an offense around him.
Burrow not being included in tier four which is meant for quarterbacks who need more time to judge, are just generally erratic or have question marks, says a lot. This is where you’ll find most young quarterbacks like Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. They could’ve just as easily said that Burrow is a rookie so he goes in tier four and we’ll see from there. Instead they started him out among some fairly significant names.
As far as continuing to build the offense around him, securing another long term option at wide receiver has to be near the top of the list. Outside of fixing the offensive line, the insecurity at the wide receiver position may be the biggest determining factor to how high Burrow can take his play early in his career. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins will be around for awhile, but A.J. Green and John Ross are only under contract for 2020. Whether they decide to bring one of those guys back on a longer deal or draft another receiver pretty high in the draft could determine Burrow’s success during his rookie contract.
It is hard not to see how bright the future can be with Burrow leading the way for the Bengals. A place like Pro Football Focus feeling the same way really only helps validate that feeling. Cincinnati fans should be ready to see some fireworks.