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2020 NFL Draft: The Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow and the No 1 pick

"I think Bengals fans burn down the city if they don't get this kid and he turns out to be a star"

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to the No. 1 overall pick
Image: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to the No. 1 overall pick

The Cincinnati Bengals possess an envied power to shape the next decade of the franchise as they head into the 2020 NFL Draft with the No 1 overall pick.

An unorthodox and innovative virtual draft could be contrasted by a somewhat predictable opening, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow touted as an irresistible opportunity for the Bengals brass to steer the team back towards playoff football.

Record-breaking Heisman Trophy winner. National Champion. Hometown hero formerly of Ohio State University. All makes for a fitting new face of the franchise.

Bengals draft success

Carson Palmer was selected No 1 in 2003
Image: Carson Palmer was selected No 1 in 2003

Only on three occasions in their history have the Bengals selected first overall, the latest being Heisman Trophy winning-quarterback Carson Palmer in 2003. He led the organisation to its first winning season since 1990 in 2005 as one of just two playoff appearances in his seven years with the team.

Since Palmer's departure in 2010 the Bengals have lost five consecutive wildcard playoff games between 2011-2015 and gone four straight seasons without reaching the postseason from 2016-2019, finishing last year with the NFL's worst record at 2-14.

The Bengals' first ever No 1 pick was Dan Wilkinson in 1994, only for the Ohio State defensive tackle to be traded to the Washington Redskins four seasons later with little to show for his time from a team perspective.

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In 1995, Cincinnati, again with the No 1 pick, selected Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter, who missed his entire rookie year after tearing a ligament in his knee during preseason. Carter went on to miss the 1997, 1998 and 1999 seasons as injuries plagued his career.

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Their last top-10 pick was wide receiver John Ross at No 9 after he famously broke the 40-yard dash record at the Scouting Combine in 2017. He has since struggled to live up to the plaudits that accompanied such an achievement.

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A.J. Green, taken at No 4 in 2011, represents the organisation's most recent top-five pick and arguably one of its most successful draft selections in recent history, the wide receiver racking up seven Pro Bowl appearances before missing the entire 2020 due to injury. He remains a leading attraction for Burrow should he return to Ohio.

With the No 11 pick in 2019 the Bengals added offensive tackle Jonah Williams, who missed his entire rookie season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Joe Burrow - a no brainer?

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow
Image: Burrow led LSU to the National Championship last season

Burrow has the on-field credentials to match the ice-cold demeanour and unwavering confidence.

The 23-year-old was named Heisman Trophy winner in December after accumulating a record 90.7 per cent of all first-place votes available.

He went on to finish 31 of 49 passing for 463 yards and five touchdowns as well as recording a rushing touchdown to lead the Tigers to the College National Championship title with a 42-25 win over Clemson.

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In doing so he set the FBS single-season record for touchdowns with 65 having finished the year with a nation-high 5,671 passing yards.

While Burrow to the Bengals looks a sure thing, there is also the outside chance of Cincinnati trading back with other quarterback-needy teams. That would mean continuing with veteran Andy Dalton and potentially snapping up Chase Young, widely-deemed the best player in the draft.

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Former Bengals Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz has backed Joe Burrow to succeed in the NFL should he be selected No 1 overall

"I am an Andy Dalton fan to a certain extent which means I think if you put Andy Dalton in the right situation with the right players around him, with the right coaching staff that's a guy that can take a team to 11 wins and into the playoffs," said Around the NFL's Dan Hanzus told Richard Graves.

"The Bengals took that road as long as they could and it's time for them to have a fresh reboot here.

"They have a young head coach [Zac Taylor] who didn't even have a chance last year, you've got to turn the page as an organisation and I think that's why, despite Chase Young being a fantastic edge rusher prospect and the type of guy that teams drool over, I think Burrow is such a slam dunk for them.

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"A guy that dominated at the college level against the top competition.

"He's an Ohio kid, he seems to have all the intangibles and Cincinnati's decision to spend money in free agency at an unprecedented level did feel like an answer to the questions or concerns that Burrow might not want to come to town because the Bengals aren't a team that are ready to win.

"I think Bengals fans burn down the city if they don't get this kid and he turns out to be a star."

The best 2020 has to offer?

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San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa believes Ohio State's Chase Young will be the 'real deal' and expects Young to succeed him as the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year

The presence of Ohio State defensive end Young is perhaps the only reason the Bengals would even begin to consider relinquishing their grip on Burrow.

Deemed a generational edge rusher and the best player available, Young enters the NFL after wreaking havoc in college with 16.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and 46 tackles, including 21 for loss, in 12 games last season.

The Heisman Trophy finalist and unanimous All-American, in line to fall to the Washington Redskins at No 2, looms as the kind of tone-setting disruptive force NFL quarterbacks will become sick of seeing.

Such is his reputation ahead of joining the professional ranks that Young earned the praise of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, who was named Defensive Rookie of the Year having been drafted out of Ohio State in 2019.

"I think he'll be Defensive Rookie of the Year next year, or even more," said Bosa.

"I think his potential is as good as anybody's, just with his physical attributes. He's six-foot-five, 270 [pounds], runs like a receiver, strong.

"We're going to have to get together and work, get him right, it's a little different playing NFL tackles but once he gets the hang of it, he's going to be the real deal."

'An opportunity to solve your QB problems for years to come'

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Burrow isn't the only quarterback pulling the strings at this year's draft, with Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa having been frontrunner for the No 1 pick prior to requiring surgery on a right hip dislocation in November.

With Pro Days and pre-Draft visits cancelled due to to the coronavirus pandemic, there remains a notion of uncertainty over his health.

One of the Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers could find themselves in a position to fulfil their quarterback needs by selecting Tagovailoa, yet there are growing murmurs he could yet slip as far as the Jacksonville Jaguars at No 9.

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"I think he's back and people need to view him as the same person who prior to the season was judged as the lock for for first pick in the draft," said agent Leigh Steinberg in an interview with Sky Sports News.

"He's got great footwork, pinpoint accuracy like a Drew Brees, great leadership skills and a strong arm. He's going to make some team really happy as a long-term franchise quarterback."

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Tagovailoa opted to forgo his senior year as he left Alabama 474 of 684 passing for 7,442 yards, 87 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions in 24 starts across three seasons.

He led the Crimson Tide to successive National Championship Game appearances in 2017 and 2018, clinching the title against the Georgia Bulldogs with a 26-23 win in the latter.

Steinberg added: "The hardest position to fill in professional football is that of franchise quarterback. Here you have someone who led his team to a National Championship, who's incredibly accurate, who's charismatic and a great leader on the field, who's technically very very sound.

"You've got this unique opportunity to take this high character, young athlete and solve your quarterback problems for years to come."

Watch all three days of the 2020 NFL Draft unfold on Sky Sports, April 23-25 - starting with build-up to day one at 6pm on Thursday, April 23 with the first picks expected to be made at 1am. Follow us @SkySportsNFL and at

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