• Matt Oehl

Following the Rookies: AFC North Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals had the number 1 pick in the 2020 Draft. If you asked people who they thought the number 1 pick was going to be in September of 2019 almost every person would've said Tua Tagovailoa, and if he didn't get injured he might have still been it. But then Joe Burrow went on to have a historically great season on his way to a Heisman trophy as well as a national title and the Bengals proceeded to take him with the number 1 pick. To help Burrow on the outside the Bengals drafted wide receiver Tee Higgins in the 2nd round.

Burrow has started in all 9 games he has played in, completing 65.5% of his passes for 2485 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions with 35 rushes for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns. Now his play has not led to many wins so far as the Bengals are only 2-6-1 but that is more so due to the defense that ranks last in the league. Burrow has been very good through 9 games. The few things that stand out to me about him are his toughness, he is more than willing to stand in the pocket and deliver great throws knowing that he is going to get hit, his poise, he does not get flustered by pressure, which behind the Bengals line happens a lot, and his accuracy. Burrow has shown that he can make every throw to all levels of the field and the most important thing is he takes care of the ball. One issue many rookie quarterbacks deal with is turning the ball over. As of now, Burrow is on pace to throw less than 10 interceptions which is phenomenal for a rookie quarterback. From the day he walked into the building I think everybody knew Joe Burrow was going to be the franchise quarterback for the Bengals and now they need to focus on getting him some more help.

They started getting Burrow help in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft where they took Clemson wide receiver, Tee Higgins. Higgins started in 7 of his 9 games played being targeted 61 times, taking in 40 receptions for 603 yards and 4 touchdowns. I did not expect Higgins to play this well this quickly but he has been able to step into the role that AJ Green used to have as a big-bodied receiver, with sure hands, that can make every catch. Higgins isn't the most explosive with his releases or in and out of cuts but he can still get open using his athleticism. His best attribute is his hands/contested catch ability. He will make 50/50 balls into 70/30 balls in his favor and has shown to be able to contort his body to make ridiculous catches. With the ball in his hands, he has also shown that he can make some plays. He is a tough runner who fights for every yard and has good athletic ability to make plays in the open field.

This is going to be a very good duo in the NFL for many years to come. What Andy Dalton and AJ Green were able to do together for a few years was solid in Cincinnati, but I believe Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins are going to be able to take this team to the next level if the front office and coaching staff can get better results out of the defense and offensive line.

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