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Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins crack PFF’s top-25 rookie rankings

PFF ranked the top-25 rookies of 2020, and the Bengals star quarterback and receiver cracked the list.

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Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Football Team Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals were able to get a franchise quarterback with the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

LSU’s Joe Burrow was the highest-ranked prospect after having one of the best seasons in college football history. They also snagged a highly sought-after receiver in Clemson’s Tee Higgins 32 picks later.

The expectations for the Ohio-native were sky high. He did not disappoint. Burrow totaled 300 or more yards in three out of his first hour games. He had a three-touchdown and no interception game mixed in there as well.

Sadly, Burrow was taken down by a dominating Washington Football Team defensive line in Week 11. That sack both ended his season and may force him to miss the start of the 2021 season.

With that injury and ugly end to the season, where does Burrow rank among the best rookies? Well, if it comes as a shock, he didn’t rank among the best of the three quarterbacks taken in the top ten.

Thankfully, he was given a solid placement for the work that he did get to put in. Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash was the one that compiled the rankings that both Higgins and Burrow were in.

Here’s what he had to say following a discouraging end to the season for Burrow.

“Despite missing nearly the entire second half of his rookie campaign following a gruesome knee injury in Week 11, Burrow still finished as the 16th-most-valuable quarterback in the NFL. His deep ball wasn’t as finely tuned as back in his historic 2019 season at LSU, but Burrow was money on just about every other throw. In fact, he recorded the sixth-best passing grade in the NFL this year when throwing 19 yards or less downfield.

“The 2020 No. 1 overall pick also had the lowest rate of passes to result in a quarterback-fault incompletion (4%) this season when in a clean pocket. That’s two percentage points higher than any other NFL quarterback in 2020. The future is bright for the Bengals with Burrow leading the offense,” Treash wrote.

WR Justin Jefferson came in at No. 2 with DE Chase Young and RT Tristan Wirfs following closely behind. At No. 4 was Justin Herbert, the star Chargers quarterback that was drafted shortly after Burrow.

It would’ve been a toss up for that No. 4 overall spot and potentially the other top spots had Burrow not been injured two-thirds of the way through the year. That said, it will hopefully open up the eyes of the coaching staff to the team’s offensive line needs.

On his rookie season, Burrow ended with 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. As for Higgins, he oftentimes proved to be Burrow No. 1 option. Despite not being the fasted receiver in the draft, Higgins was one of the best route runners on the board.

He proved that in 2020, ending the season with 908 yards and six touchdowns. He recorded two 100-plus yard games and eight games of 50 or more yards. Along with 62 receptions and 14 starts, Higgins was easily a top-ten rookie this season.

Treash agreed.

“Higgins left his final game as a rookie in Week 17 a few plays into the game with an injury that caused him to miss out on joining Cris Collinsworth and likely future Hall-of-Famer A.J. Green as the only 1,000-yard rookie receivers in franchise history. He was, however, one of the 10 most valuable rookies this year, ranking 26th in receiving grade (79.0).

Despite missing out on that record, Higgins still produced a successful rookie year and continuously got better. Back in Week 16, he had a performance that was reminiscent of his days at Clemson, as he hauled in three contested targets along with a highlight-reel, toe-tapping touchdown,” Treash wrote.

Both young players have bright future in the NFL and hopefully in the Queen City. The sky will be the ceiling for this duo in 2021.