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ESPN’s NFL Quarterback Council ranks Joe Burrow highly going into 2022

The Bengals have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals Minicamp Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals were fortunate to have their worst season when it earned them the ability to draft quarterback Joe Burrow first overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has spent two seasons as an NFL quarterback. One of those he suffered an ACL injury, and the other he spent the early part of the season miraculously returning from that injury.

The result was an improbable trip to the Super Bowl. And now, he’s earning the recognition everyone knew he would eventually receive after lighting it up at LSU. We just didn’t know he’d be considered so highly so quickly.

ESPN had their second NFL Quarterback Council meeting where they ranked quarterbacks in 12 key areas. Here is a brief description of that process:

We asked NFL analysts — Matt Bowen, Tim Hasselbeck, Mina Kimes, Matt Miller, Jordan Reid, Louis Riddick, Mike Tannenbaum, Seth Walder, Field Yates and Football Outsiders’ team of Aaron Schatz and Derrik Klassen — to rank their personal top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering the 2022 season in 12 distinct categories, from arm strength to field vision. We then combined those lists with a point-based system to generate a final ranking in each area, all 12 of which are below.

Spoiler Alert!!!

Burrow ranked very highly in many departments. Here is where he ranked, and we will talk more about it underneath.

  • Arm Strength: Received votes
  • Accuracy: 3rd
  • Touch: 4th
  • Mechanics: 3rd
  • Field Vision: 4th
  • Decision-making: Tied for 5th
  • Compete level: 5th noted as riser to watch
  • Toughness: 5th
  • Pocket Presence: 4th
  • Scrambling: Received votes and noted as snubbed
  • Second-reaction: 9th
  • Designed-run: Not ranked

First we have to not that even being ranked top 10 in 10 of the 12 categories is amazing on its own. That is the making of a top five quarterback all on its own.

It is notable that Burrow often only falls behind the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes when he ranks in the top five of any category. Those categories are arguably some of the most important to making a great quarterback like accuracy, decision-making, pocket presence and field vision. Those aren’t some qualifying group of quarterbacks like best under 25-years-old or in the AFC. Those are the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and that is great company to have Burrow in after only one full season in the NFL.

You might think it would be greedy to complain about Burrow’s ranking in the rest of the areas, and you would be right. However, I will be the greedy one.

There are not four quarterbacks more tough than Joseph Lee Burrow in the NFL

That is the most outrageous thing to me. Lamar Jackson, Mahomes and Josh Allen being ahead of a guy who got sacked over 50 times in the regular season (and hit even more) coming off an ACL injury that should have had him miss the beginning of last season is objectively wrong. The only player I’ll give a pass is Matthew Stafford who time and time again has played through injuries you’d see players sit weeks out over.

Burrow was snubbed as a competitor

This one was even noted as one to watch him as a riser. Burrow’s competitiveness is one of the main reasons free agents have been willing to come to Cincinnati and all of his teammates talk about how they never doubt they have a chance in any game because Burrow will not quit. Here is what they said in the post:

Riser to watch: It might seem like a stretch, but Burrow can keep rising and actually climb all the way to the top of this list. Flashback to his first bowl game against UCF, when he played his best football after an illegal hit to the face mask by a charging Knights defender. Or last season when the Titans sacked him nine times in the playoffs and the Bengals still won. Burrow plays his best after you rough him up, and that competitiveness is contagious. — Miller

It won’t be shocking when Burrow will be at the top of this.

Side note: Rodgers is a lot of things, but I would not call him a competitor in the same vein as a Brady or Burrow.

Semantics kept Burrow out of top 10 scramblers

I will let this speak for itself first.

Snubbed: Joe Burrow isn’t going to kill teams as a runner, but he will make them chase him outside the pocket. Burrow is bigger than people seem to realize (6-4, 215 pounds), giving him a tricky combination of strength and short-area quickness to make the most of his sharp instincts. Burrow’s magic outside the pocket played a huge role in Cincinnati’s success last season, even if a lot of it came on scramble-drill throws rather than Burrow taking off to run. — Schatz/Klassen

The Bengals wouldn’t have won the AFC Championship if Burrow wasn’t a quality scrambler. He found a way to run for a number of crucial first downs. He also used his legs and ability to escape tacklers constantly to extend plays and find open receivers. His omission here seems more due to the fact he doesn’t rely on his running ability to always gain yards, and that he doesn’t have dynamic speed to turn his runs into huge gains. The quality of his running ability is up there with the top 10 listed players.

Overall

Bengals fans should be quite pleased with the face of their franchise. It is fun to be able to watch and appreciate Burrow every Sunday. It is even better to know that he is recognized by analysts who know what they are talking about as one of the best quarterbacks already in the NFL.