Joe Burrow got off to a fast start as a rookie with the Cincinnati Bengals, before he was knocked out for the last few weeks of the season with a torn ACL and MCL. The team still has plenty of be excited about, and looks to continue to build around him in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Bengals occupy the No. 5 spot in the first round, prime real estate for a team that doesn't need a quarterback. After yesterday's huge San Francisco 49ers trade up to No. 3, the top three picks—and potentially top four, depending on what the Atlanta Falcons do—could all be quarterbacks. For the Bengals, being at five could be just as good as being at the top of the draft.
Burrow got absolutely crushed last season, as the Bengals fielded one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. The team has signed veteran Riley Reiff, which should certainly help, but one has to imagine turning down the chance to take someone like Oregon's Penei Sewell, one of the most talented offensive line prospects in years, or a rising star like Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern, would be tough.
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer thinks they'll do just that, and at Joe Burrow's behest. He says that Burrow has reportedly pushed to be reunited with his former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase, one of the NFL Draft's top wide receivers.
"I could easily see Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater going here, but word on the street is that Joe Burrow is stumping for Cincy to bring his old Tiger teammate to Ohio," Breer wrote in his first 2021 NFL Mock Draft. "And the Riley Reiff signing gives the Bengals the flexibility to add a playmaker who’s an ideal stylistic fit for their quarterback."
Chase opted out of the 2020 season, after an incredible year en route to the national championship in 2019. He caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. Even after missing the year, and the incredible season Alabama's DeVonta Smith put in this year, Chase is the favorite to be the top wide receiver taken thanks to his impressive combination of size, speed, and production.
Passing on a talent like Sewell may still look bad when the dust settles, but getting the Burrow-to-Chase connection back going would be a lot of fun.