Joe Burrow had danced around the question for weeks, mainly because no one had ever asked him directly about playing for the Bengals. He was asked THE question Tuesday during the media interviews at the Combine:
If the Bengals draft you, will you play for them?
“Yeah, I mean I’m not going to not play,” Burrow said. “I’m a ball player. Whoever picks me, I’m going to go show up.”
The Bengals have the first choice, and there has been a sense that he does not want to play for them. During Super Bowl week, Burrow said he wanted to go to a team “committed” to winning championships.
That was seen as a swipe at the Bengals, who haven’t won a playoff game since 1990.
While picking up the Davey O’Brien Award last week, the Heisman Trophy winner conceded he has “leverage” as the top quarterback.
Burrow downplayed the “leverage” comment Tuesday. He said he was referring to the Combine process, even though the LSU quarterback never mentioned the Combine process in his original quote in Fort Worth.
“I haven’t really thought about it like that,” Burrow said Tuesday of his leverage. “I was kind of talking more about the Combine process. Just so everyone knows, I’m not going to throw. I’m not going to workout. That’s kind of what I was talking about. But yeah, I’m going to just try to be the best player I can be for whoever drafts me and try to fit in in any way that I can.”
It is a good cover, if anyone believes it.
But Burrow only has to convince the Bengals he wants to play for them. Or maybe it’s the Bengals have to convince Burrow they are committed to winning.
“I think with any quarterback, fit is really important, but you don’t have a lot of say in that in the draft,” Burrow said. “Whoever picks you, picks you and you’ve got to go play. I’m going to try to make whoever picks me work. I think my skill set is really diverse that can fit in a lot of different schemes, so I’m going to try to be the best player I can.”
The Bengals and Burrow will meet this week, one of several teams Burrow will meet with.
“We’re just going to talk ball, just like every other team,” Burrow said. “I’m excited to get to know what their offense looks like, what they see for me, what they see what I can get better at. That’s something I’m asking all these teams when I’m interviewing with them: What do you think I can get better at? Because I’m always trying to learn; I’m always trying to improve.”
Burrow grew up in Ohio, which he points out is a 2-hour, 15-minute drive from his parents’ house to the Bengals’ training facility.
Having the worst record in the NFL last season won the Bengals the first overall choice. They need a quarterback, with the Bengals reportedly willing to work with Andy Dalton to facilitate a trade.
Burrow appears perfect for the Bengals. Are the Bengals perfect for Burrow?
“Of course I want to be the first pick,” Burrow said. “That’s every kid’s dream. I’ve worked really, really hard for this, and I’m blessed to be in this position. A lot of people helped me get here. I’m just really excited to be in his place.”