After enduring a tough 2019 season in which they saw their team go 2-14 in the first season of the Zac Taylor era, fans of the Cincinnati Bengals finally had something to cheer about during this past week’s NFL Draft.
The Bengals had the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft for the fourth time in franchise history and selected Athens, Ohio native Joe Burrow out of LSU with the top pick.
Burrow of course is the reigning Heisman trophy winner after he had arguable the best season in college football history with 5,671 total yards passing, a record breaking 60 touchdown passes (64 total TDs), and an insane 76 percent completion percentage after competing 402 out of 527 pass attempts.
Burrow, who started his career in Columbus playing for Ohio State before transferring to LSU, led the Tigers to a perfect 15-0 record as they defeated defending champion Clemson 45-25 in the title game.
While their is rightfully plenty of excitement buzzing in ‘Cinci’ following the draft, Bengals fans may need to pump the brakes a bit if they expect Burrow to step right in and immediately make the Bengals contenders in the AFC North.
The last time the Bengals had the No. 1 pick was in the 2003 draft when they selected Heisman Trophy winning QB Carson Palmer from USC. The Bengals elected to sit Palmer for his entire first season to help him get acclimated to the NFL before handing him the reigns as a starter in his second year.
By the time his third year rolled around, Palmer led the Bengals to an 11-5 record and the AFC North Championship before tearing his ACL early in the Wild Card Playoff loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers which all but ended the Bengals postseason hopes.
While I do expect Burrow to be the starter in Cincinnati during the 2020 season, fans of the orange-and-black shouldn’t be surprised if the native Buckeye struggles just a tad.
After all, arguably the greatest QB of all-time Peyton Manning struggled mightily during his first season as a starter for the Colts as he tossed a league leading 28 picks to his 26 touchdowns and the Colts finished with a 3-13 record.
However, the next season Manning cut his interceptions down to only 15 while still throwing 26 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards while leading Indianapolis to a 13-3 record.
If the Bengals front office can build an offensive line to protect Burrow and continue to add weapons around him while adding young pieces to the defense via free agency, Cincinnati will be back in the hunt for the AFC North within the next three seasons.
Local schools Marshall, West Virginia, and Kentucky were all three well represented at the 2020 NFL Draft as each program produced two selections.
Marshall kicker Justin Rohrwasser was the first kicker taken with a fifth round selection by the New England Patriots and then defensive back Chris Jackson was the second Herd product taken as he was selected 243rd overall by the Tennessee Titans in the seventh round.
Kentucky had the highest player drafted out of the three local programs as junior athlete Lynn Bowden was selected in the third round as the Las Vegas Raiders took him with the 80th pick in the draft.
Offensive lineman Logan Stenberg was then selected a round later with the 121st pick by the Detroit Lions.
West Virginia University had two players selected back-to-back in the fifth round of the draft as junior safety Kenny Robinson was taken by the Carolina Panthers with the No. 152 pick and then senior OL Colton McKivitz was taken No. 153 overall by the San Francisco 49ers.
Mountaineer hoops fans also received some good news this past week when big man Oscar Tshiebwe announced he was pulling his name from the NBA Draft and would be returning for his sophomore season.
The former McDonald’s All-American was one of the best rebounders in the BIG-12 this past season and with him returning for a second season the Mountaineers will likely find themselves ranked within the top 15 of next seasons preseason AP Poll.