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Burrow will likely begin his NFL career as the starting quarterback for the Bengals after coming off a stellar season with LSU head coach Ed Orgeron where he led the Tigers to their fourth national championship.
“It’s a dream come true,” Burrow told ESPN immediately following the pick.
“I wasn’t very good my junior year. It’s pretty simple,” Burrow said of his growth throughout his college career. “I worked really hard to get better, all my guys worked really hard to get better and we just gelled as a team this year to do exactly what we did. I just wasn’t as good as my senior year. But I worked really, really hard to improve.”
According to ESPN, Bengals owner Mike Brown wrote a letter to Burrow on Wednesday saying he was looking forward “to building championship football teams with you for many years to come.”
After leading the country with 5,671 passing yards and setting an NCAA record with 60 touchdown passes in 15 starts his senior year, it was no surprise that Burrow would land the No. 1 pick.
Burrow was awarded Offensive Player of the Game after defeating Clemson 42-25 this year to help LSU win its first title since 2007. In addition to earning the coveted Heisman Trophy for his incredible performance overall during the season, Burrow also received the Maxwell Award as the best all-around college football player in the nation and the Walter Camp Award as the college football player of the year.
The Bengals went 2-14 last season to earn the first overall pick, making the Burrow selection a no-brainer.
Controversy stirred in early February after Burrow said during an interview that any player would want to play for “a great organization that is committed to winning,” suggesting he wouldn’t be thrilled being drafted by a team with Cinncinaati’s record.
He later clarified those remarks by saying he would be happy to be back in Ohio: “I’m not going to not play.”
Bengals coach Zac Taylor never shied away from his interest in Burrow leading up to the draft, telling ESPN on Wednesday that they’ve always felt “very comfortable” with him as their top prospect.
“We talked to a lot of guys, but certainly formed a really good relationship with Joe, and been really impressed with everything we’ve seen from him. He’s as advertised,” Taylor said. “All the things we heard about him, we saw from our first meeting with him, and as we’ve gotten to know him over the last couple weeks.”
The last time the Bengals drafted a quarterback with the first overall draft pick was Carson Palmer in 2003.
The pressure will be on for the rookie quarterback to turn things around in Cincinnati, where Bengals fans are hoping Burrow will be able to mirror his college performance in the big leagues.