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Joe Burrow NFL draft profile and fantasy projection

Joe Burrow took a senior year leap that no other quarterback has ever done, on his way to the Heisman trophy. Will he be able to continue his elevated play in the NFL?

Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers motions “first down” during the second half against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Joe Burrow started his college career in Ohio State but lost the starting job to Dwayne Haskins and transferred to Louisiana State University. In his junior year, he completed 219-of-379 passes for a 57.8 percent completion rate, 2,894 yards, 16 passing touchdowns, five interceptions and 128 carries for 399 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. But those numbers didn’t prepare the world for his senior year, as he went on to have one of the best seasons in college football history the following year.

Burrow completed 402-of-527 attempts for a 76.3 percent completion rate, for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns in 15 starts. His honors were as many as you’d expect with that season, winning the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell, Walter Camp Player of the Year, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, and Davey O’Brien Awards, as well as unanimous Associated Press All-American and SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Scouting Report

Burrow had few chinks in the armor in 2019, showing great poise and accuracy in all situations. His football intelligence is off the charts, as he can read defenses and anticipate throws with great consistency.

He is older than most rookies, turning 24 in 2020, but his transfer from Ohio State lengthened his college time and for a quarterback, age isn’t as important as it is at other positions, as you’ve seen with the likes of Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

His arm strength isn’t elite, but he can make all of the throws while his football IQ allows him to read and anticipate so well that he doesn’t need to force throws with a rocket arm.

Burrow also has a good feel for when to run, scoring 12 rushing touchdowns in his last two seasons. He’s not going to be a big yardage maker on the ground, but like many of the top fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL, he will add points with his legs.

He’s a rhythm passer who benefited from tempo and scheme, but his vision, touch and read recognition made the offense special. He buys time for himself inside the pocket, but creates explosive, off-schedule plays outside of it with his arm or legs. He throws with staggering precision and timing, but he recognizes his own arm-strength constraints and is forced to shrink the field accordingly. — Lance Zierlein

Burrows huge statistical leap might scare some, but what evaluators saw on the field should be more than enough to keep him as the No. 1 prospect and the likely future franchise quarterback for the Bengals.

Mock Draft Results

Mel Kiper, ESPN: Bengals
Daniel Jeremiah, Bengals
Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Bengals
Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire: Bengals

Fantasy impact: Rookie year

Unless something crazy happens, the Bengals will take Burrow with their first pick. Coach Zac Taylor’s offense should be conducive to Burrow’s abilities, but Burrow could fit in most pro schemes. He will be a quick upgrade to the Bengals 2019 quarterbacks and should help the whole group elevate their fantasy stats. The return of A.J. Green should be a big help, especially if he can stay healthy.

Burrow’s fantasy upside will be tough to call his rookie season, but he’s likely to be above average in Taylor’s system as long as his receivers and offensive line can stay healthy.

Fantasy impact: Career

Burrow’s skill set is going to make him a strong real-life quarterback and likely in fantasy as well. Much depends on his team and we’ve seen the Bengals churn out mediocre teams year after year. I believe Taylor is a coach who can succeed with the right personnel and getting Burrow should energize the organization enough to push them to do their best to keep the pieces around Burrow strong. He’s not a lock, as no quarterbacks are, but his makeup is one that should allow him to be a top fantasy quarterback in his prime.