Three reasons why Cincinnati must draft Joe Burrow

Profile Picture: James Scully

April 8th, 2020

The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off April 23, and the Cincinnati Bengals own the top pick. We’ve heard the speculation surrounding the draft-rich Miami Dolphins, who reportedly will tender a king’s bounty of as many as nine picks, including three first-round selections, for the right choose LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick.

Many analysts are saying Cincinnati should seriously consider an offer. It’s an opportunity to rebuild, and the rationale is easy to understand — build up a complete team with several talented players, instead of just one elite quarterback.

But any notion that Cincinnati should trade the first pick is sheer lunacy, because the Bengals are poised to take big leap forward with a franchise quarterback.

Here are three reasons why Cincinnati must draft Burrow.

1. Jonah Williams, Joe Mixon, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross

Cincinnati has quality skill players at running back and wide receiver.

Joe Mixon is entering his prime and is an elite rusher and receiver.

A.J. Green is a top 10 receiver when healthy, and he’s provided valuable tutorage to the up-and-coming Tyler Boyd, who has put together back-to-back seasons of 1,000 receiving yards or more, despite poor quarterback production in Cincinnati. John Ross, the first-round pick in 2017, is a bona fide speedster, who will complement Burrow perfectly, after the receiver had his skills compromised by weak-armed passers.

The Bengals offensive line stunk in 2019, but help is on the way at tackle. Cincinnati selected the premier offensive lineman of the 2018 college football season, Alabama’s Jonah Williams, but he missed last year because of a shoulder injury. Williams played at a higher level than any offensive lineman during the 2019 college football season, in my estimation, as well. Fully recovered and excited to wreak havoc with physicality and athleticism, Williams is expected to be a cornerstone left tackle for years to come.

Nobody seems to be talking about Williams joining the Bengals offensive line. Burrow will love having Williams protect him, and the Bengals will continue to add other pieces in the Draft and off-season transactions.

2. $100+ million in free-agent defensive acquisitions

Last year’s defense was good enough to support a competent offense, but the Bengals were so bad offensively they constantly put the defense in impossible situations. Injuries piled up, as well, but it was encouraging to see the defense improve late in the season. It gave up only one touchdown over 10 quarters and held Oakland, the New York Jets, and Pittsburgh to 26 combined points during a three-game stretch.

This hasn’t been the typical offseason, with the notoriously cheap Bengals on the sideline when free agency begins. Cincinnati opened the pocketbook and signed five projected starters on defense for more than $100 million. The Bengals improved significantly at every level.

D.J. Reader, a major influence in Houston’s interior defense over the last three seasons, is now the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL (four years, $53 million). Along with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap up front, the Bengals will have one of the most fearsome defensive lines in the AFC.

Josh Bynes, a middle linebacker from Baltimore, will provide immediate assistance to a key area. Bynes received a 76.2 grade from ProFootballFocus.com in 2019, and Nick Vigil was Cincinnati’s top-graded linebacker at 54.4.

Trae Waynes (three years, $42 million) could be the shutdown cornerback Cincinnati has lacked. He was signed from Minnesota, along with Mackensie Alexander, who has enormous upside and will take over at slot corner. Inking former New Orleans safety Vonn Bell (three years, $18 million) was a savvy move, given how excellent he is against the run.

The Bengals defense is trending upward, and expectations will be completely different for the sneaky-good unit with Burrow at the helm.

3. Trading Burrow would be a curse, like trading Babe Ruth

Burrow is going to win, and win big, wherever he goes. And Cincinnati needs a quarterback. If the Bengals trade him away for a boatload of picks, they will have too many good players on next year’s roster to tank for Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. They’ll be a middle-of-the-pack team desperately in need of a franchise quarterback to take them to the next level.

Cincinnati can’t risk losing the next generation of fans by trading away Burrow.

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