Former No.1 draft pick Joe Burrow is entering his sophomore season with his Bengals, who are now on the uprise. As we know, his remarkable rookie campaign came to an end due to a horrific injury against Washington last season, but something from that short rookie season stuck out to me. It just didn’t seem that Burrow wasn’t getting as much attention, or praise from the media. This easily could’ve been due to the fact that the Bengals weren’t winning much, but his numbers were still something to admire. He threw for 2,700 yards, had 13 touchdowns compared to 5 INT’s, and an overall passer rating of 89.8. He put up these numbers, and played for most of the season. For a rookie with a bottom 5 o-line, I’d call that a successful campaign, also considering that he was the starter right out of the gate.

Looking back at his division rival, who was also the number one pick in his draft class, Baker Mayfield, there are a lot of spots that differ from Burrow’s rookie campaign, and some predictions that can be made based on what we saw from Baker. The Thursday Night game where Mayfield trotted on the field to replace an injured Tyrod Taylor felt like a new beginning for Cleveland, and I think it’s safe to say it was. But, not as quick as we thought it would be. Mayfield played decently well for the rest of his rookie year, and had high hopes heading into year 2. The Browns would trade for Odell Beckham Jr the following offseason, and the media immediately turned to Mayfield to deliver a huge sophomore season, possibly leading the Browns into the playoffs. All the pressure was on Baker, and he wasn’t able to deliver. Too many bad decisions were made by him, and this Browns team just seemed stuck. Many were questioning if the Browns should even hold onto Baker once his contract ends because of his dismal performances. After a little bit of the pressure fell off of Baker, he started to make some noise. Cleveland eventually got on a roll mid-season, and the rest is history. They have one of the brightest futures in the league now. Now, we look at Joe Burrow. So far, we haven’t seen a lot of pressure being thrown at him to bring Cincy to the playoffs this year. I get he’s coming off of an injury, but how is this situation any different than how Cleveland was entering Mayfield’s second year? 

I truly have no good reasoning to back up an answer to that question, other than the fact that Burrow got injured. He now has a pretty good receiving core with the addition of Ja’Marr Chase, as well as a solid running back in Joe Mixon. The only problem here is the o-line. It felt like the one thing that kept him from putting up video game numbers last year, and I don’t feel any different about it this year. Sure, they made some minor improvements to protect Burrow, but in all honesty I believe Penei Sewell was the right choice. The Bengals have lacked QB protection for the last few years, and it’s been a big part as to what their offense is missing. If you give Burrow an average offensive line that ranks in the middle of the pack in the league, he’s capable of doing what most can’t. We saw what he did at LSU. He was able to create space with the crazy amount of time he had to throw the ball. As for the way he is rated, more than 30% has to do with his offensive line. It may seem like a lot to some, or a little, but if they can’t protect him, he can’t use his talented arm to deliver the ball. 

To sum it up, with the lack of pressure on Burrow so far, I look at him as an underrated quarterback that is going to surprise a whole lot of the NFL world. Sure, his o-line needs a ton of work, but he was the first overall pick for a reason. He is just so talented when it comes to his creativity. Who knows, he may even give Cincinnati a winning season. Well, that may be a bit of a stretch. One thing we all know for sure is that once this kid gets quality protection, he’s going to become a very elite quarterback.

Top Photo: Saturday Down South

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