The Cincinnati Bengals made one of the more controversial decisions at the top of Thursday’s first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Rather than filling a major need at offensive line in an effort to keep Joe Burrow upright, the team took the quarterback’s favorite college target, LSU‘s Ja’Marr Chase.
Chase is a special player, and could be one of the most electric players to come out of this draft. Even after opting out of the 2020 season, he went ahead of the Alabama duo of Jaylen Waddle and Heisman winner DeVonta Smith. He’s certainly worth a top five selection.
However, offensive line was pretty clearly the biggest issue for the Bengals in year one of the Joe Burrow era. The rookie quarterback was sacked more than three times per game, and it was a big hit that wound up ending his season prematurely. Many hoped Cincinnati would go with Penei Sewell, the No. 1 offensive lineman in a few years, or perhaps the versatile Rashawn Slater.
Burrow hasn’t exactly hid how pumped he is to reunite with Chase though, and most have suspected that he steered the team in that direction. Head coach Zac Taylor says that Burrow told him his excitement would be a “10 out of 10” if the team was to draft his former LSU teammate.
Zac Taylor said he asked Joe Burrow what his excitement level would be about drafting Ja'Marr Chase on a scale of 1-10.
Joe Burrow said, "10." #Bengals
— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) April 30, 2021
Joe Burrow’s excitement is certainly understandable. In 2019, the two linked up for 84 receptions, 1,780 yards, and 20 touchdowns en route to LSU’s national championship.
Burrow won the Heisman, putting up an outrageous 5,671 yard, 60 touchdown, six interception season, completing over 76-percent of his throws. Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Terrace Marshall Jr., who could be drafted tonight, made up one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the country.
Time will tell if it was the right move for the franchise though. Passing up a franchise left tackle is a tough thing to do.