We’re going to get hypothetical for a moment. While all signs currently point to the Cincinnati Bengals selecting Louisiana State University quarterback Joe Burrow with the #1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the reason the draft is such a fun exercise is the unpredictability and hypothetical scenarios. It’s possible that Joe Burrow doesn’t go first overall, or that a team trades with Cincinnati for his services. I am not saying that it’s going to happen, I’m just saying that it is a possibility.
With even the slightest of possibilities, the mind races with hypothetical scenarios.
This is not meant to be predictive, or even in some cases realistic.
While scouting Burrow, it’s difficult to stop the imagination from running wild. Which NFL wide receiver corps would Burrow elevate the most? Which offensive system would be the best fit for his skill-set? Which free agents would stay with their respective teams if they acquired Burrow?
I analyzed the three teams that, as a fan of the NFL, I would want to see Joe Burrow play for based on their offensive weapons, offensive system, and current QB situation.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There is uncertainty around Tampa Bay’s quarterback situation with the impending free agency of former number one overall pick Jameis Winston. While Winston has had flashes of brilliance, he’s far too inconsistent and careless with the football. Based on Winston’s play last season, Burrow would be an upgrade for the Buccaneers’ offense. Oh, what a situation that would be for Burrow.
Tampa Bay has arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who combined for nearly 2,500 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in 27 total games last season. Not only would Burrow benefit from the talent at wide receiver, but he would have the luxury of playing in Bruce Arians’ offensive system.
Burrow’s touch and deep accuracy would pair well with Evans and Godwin, who are both monsters at the catchpoint. On top of that, Burrow’s ability to extend the play could finally unlock the talent of young tight end O.J. Howard. Considering Winston was able to throw for over 5,100 yards last season, the amount of explosive plays that Burrow would generate with this type of talent would be remarkable.
Downfield accuracy while (quite literally) off-platform is one of Joe Burrow’s best traits. Easy to appreciate his field vision while out of structure. pic.twitter.com/XkTzCHIZrL
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 17, 2020
Los Angeles Chargers
The light bulbs in the scoreboard will need to be replaced if Burrow becomes the QB of the Los Angeles Chargers. With the announcement that the Chargers will be moving on from Philip Rivers, who has been their starter since 2006, they’ll likely be searching for an answer at the position this offseason.
Keenan Allen is one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL, and his consistent separation makes for easy completions for whoever is behind center. Allen’s counterpart, Mike Williams, is known for making some highlight reel receptions with his body control, and he’s averaged 10.7 yards per target over the past two seasons. With Burrow’s ability to throw outside the numbers, Williams would be a budding star receiver.
Los Angeles doesn’t draft until the 6th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, which likely means they’ll be targeting one of the other quarterback prospects in the class such as Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert or Jordan Love. With that said, they’re not out of realistic striking distance to trade up to one of the top picks.
All 7 of Mike Williams’ touchdowns so far this season. The traits that got him drafted in the Top 10 are starting to show up on a more consistent basis in year 2:
•Ball skills to high point
•Body control along the boundary
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) November 29, 2018
Talented pass-catching running back Austin Ekeler (92 receptions, 993 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns) would be an immediate security blanket for the rookie signal-caller. On top of Ekeler in the backfield, the Chargers strong running game with Melvin Gordon would take pressure off of Burrow’s shoulders as a rookie.
While it remains to be seen if free-agent tight end Hunter Henry will return to Los Angeles, his presence would round out the Chargers weapons and give them pass-catching talent at every position.
Yes, the team most likely to secure Burrow could potentially be one of his best offensive situations. While it’s currently unknown if A.J. Green will return to Cincinnati, his presence would give the Bengals pass catchers a ton of potential.
Green is a perennial top-ten receiver in the league who should be back to full health this season. His presence would help any young quarterback. On top of Green, Tyler Boyd has now produced consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns and does his best work over the middle. John Ross posted over 500 receiving yards in just eight games last season and can stretch the field with his blazing speed. All three of the top Bengal wideouts would be 1,000-yard candidates with Burrow behind center. Even looking beyond the top of the depth chart, Auden Tate’s size gives him intriguing potential entering his age-23 season.
Cincinnati is almost definitely going to move on from free-agent quarterback Andy Dalton, making the Bengals offense the one we’re most likely to see Burrow be a part of moving forward. Considering their weapons, the group will have a ton of promise with him behind center.
John Ross was my pre-draft WR3. To this point in his career, he’s failed to live up to my expectations or his draft position. Year 3 could finally be his breakout as he has 100+ yards and 2 TD’s through the first half of week 1 pic.twitter.com/RCm5dPlbJ7
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) September 8, 2019
Burrow’s recent nine-inch hand measurement shouldn’t hold him back from reaching his potential on any of these teams, or any team in the NFL for that matter.