Quarterback is a tough position to predict. Highly-touted quarterbacks often become busts. On the other hand, Hall of Fame talent can get overlooked in the draft. Just consider Tom Brady, who fell to the sixth round before the Patriots snagged him in 2000. This year, all eyes are on Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
Burrow’s performances so far have been encouraging. Yet in at least one category, he’s struggled mightily. Let’s look at Burrow’s college career and his NFL skills so far, including his chance of setting a disastrous NFL record.
Joe Burrow’s college football career
Burrow started his college career at Ohio State. He redshirted his first year, then played 10 games as a backup over the next two seasons. Dissatisfied with his role, he chose to transfer to Louisiana State University ahead of his junior year. There he quickly slotted into a starting position, while proving himself one of the most exciting young talents.
In his first season with LSU, Burrow threw 219 complete passes for 2,894 yards and 16 touchdowns, with a 57.8 completion rate. Those numbers ballooned in a huge way during his senior year. That season, Burrow threw 402 completions for a staggering 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns. He connected on a staggering 76.3% of his pass attempts.
Burrow also led the Tigers to a national championship behind his stellar play. He also won a host of awards for his play that year. Burrow earned the Heisman Trophy, AP College Football Player of the Year, and the Sporting News College Football Player of the Year award.
Burrow’s first season in the NFL
Impressed by Burrow’s senior-year leap, the Bengals scooped him up with the first overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. He was exactly the sort of generational talent that the struggling franchise was looking for to turn their prospects around. Among pundits, Burrow was considered a runaway favorite to take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
The Bengals wasted no time before slotting Burrow into the starting line-up. So far, he’s shown plenty of the talent that helped him run away with the Heisman last year. In four games, he’s thrown 116 completions for 1,121 yards and six touchdowns, with a 66.5% completion rate. These are impressive numbers for a player just getting used to the NFL.
Joe Burrow is on pace to set a disastrous NFL record
That said, Joe Burrow has certainly felt some growing pains in his transition to pro football. He’s spent most of the season under tremendous pressure from opposing defenders, who’ve been able to break the Bengal’s line almost at will. As a result, Burrow has already been sacked 15 times through just four games, for a total loss of 107 yards.
For perspective, if Burrow keeps getting sacked at the same rate, he’ll end up with 75 sacks on the season, according to SB Nation. That’s just one shy of the all-time record of 76 sacks, set by David Carr in 2002. Bengals brass is worried enough about the health risk of taking all those sacks that they have implored Burrow to be smarter about taking hits, reports NFL.com.
Of course, it’s not all Burrow’s fault. On the one hand, his exciting and improvisatory style of play tends to put him in riskier positions. Yet the Bengals’ offensive line deserves a large share of the blame. It’s allowed 53 pressures in just three games. Simply put, Cincinnati’s blockers must try a lot harder to protect their QB.