Why the Cincinnati Bengals’ Selection of Jermaine Burton Raises Red Flags

Seven years after drafting Joe Mixon in wake of an ugly assault of a female, the Bengals took Jermaine Burton, who struck a female fan in 2022.

CINCINNATI – There are times when a coach will pound the table to urge drafting the player, and there are instances when the table absorbs punishment after the pick is made.

Friday night the latter was the case after the Cincinnati Bengals selected Alabama receiver Jermaine Burton with Pick 80, their first of two selections in the third round.

Bengals Select Wide Receiver With Checkered Past

But as excited as Zac Taylor appeared to be on the ESPN broadcast, the smack that will get the most attention in the aftermath of the selection will be the one Burton delivered to a female fan in a field-storming incident after a loss at Tennessee in 2022.

It’s one of several red flags dotting Burton’s profile, which is a big reason why someone with his physical ability was still available midway through the third round.

Asked about the incident minutes after the Bengals selected him, this is what Burton said:

“It was something I had to move past forward,” Burton said. “It was a very emotional, passionate game, and a lot was on the line. I have really learned in situations like that. We played LSU (two weeks later) and the same thing happened, and I was one of the first guys in the locker room. I quickly separated myself and understood there’s more at stake.”

The following season, Burton lost his cool again after baiting from Texas A&M players and earned an unsportsmanlike penalty. And he played for six schools in eight seasons.

A coaching staff that has been so committed to character and culture no doubt vetted Burton to the point where the franchise felt comfortable selecting him. But seven years after the team drafted Joe Mixon in the wake of an ugly assault of a female, the team will need to answer questions again.

“It was something we talked about with him, just to hear what he had to say about it,” Taylor said. “We did our research on all these guys and made sure we’re aware of every incident they’ve been a part of. There’s certainly maturity things that come with some of these guys, and that’s one of the things he’ll continue to grow with.”

Burton’s talent is unquestioned. He played at IMG Academy in high school before spending two seasons at Georgia and two at Alabama.

He appeared in 50 games in the SEC with 39 starts, though he never logged more than 800 yards in a season.

But he averaged 18.0 yards per reception, including 20.5 last year at Alabama.

KEEP READING: Bengals 2024 Draft Grades

Taylor said the team believes pairing Burton’s football ability with a locker room flush with character and professionalism will lead to great things for everyone.

“I think we’ve got a really good setup for any of these guys coming from college that need a chance to see how a pro handles himself and what they do,” he said. “That’s why we built it the way we can.

“I have high expectations for these guys we just drafted to come in and be a pro immediately,” Taylor added. “I’ve also got so much respect for (wide receivers coach) Troy Walters, and I think every receiver in that room is going to impact guys the right way and affect them in a very positive way. I think that’s pretty rare to be able to see that. It’s turned into one of the deepest receiver rooms in the league with talent and character.”

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