CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t stressing over the inability to see former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow throw live before this month’s NFL draft.
Multiple members of the coaching staff were scheduled to make the trip to Louisiana to see Burrow at LSU’s pro day, scheduled for this Friday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor told ESPN this week.
However, because of the nationwide restrictions implemented by the COVID-19 outbreak, LSU and several other schools have postponed or canceled their pro days. Taylor said that even if the Bengals are unable to see Burrow or other quarterback options throw before the draft starts on April 23, it will not significantly alter the evaluation process.
“Really, the No. 1 evaluation tool is always the regular-season tape, especially with quarterbacks,” Taylor said. “We watched all that as much as we could with all these quarterbacks that are options there. Again, it’s just one box you don’t get to check off. But I think we’re comfortable making any decision that we make without having seen all these guys throw live.”
On March 13, the league issued a memo banning all in-person, pre-draft visits for draft-eligible players, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano. Team facilities have also been closed to all non-essential personnel since March 24, which prevents teams from hosting prospects.
Burrow, ranked as the top available quarterback by ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr., did not participate in the Senior Bowl or the NFL scouting combine. Burrow’s season ended in January after he capped LSU’s undefeated season with a victory in the College Football Playoff.
“Everyone else has been training a lot longer,” Burrow said on Feb. 25. “I didn’t think I’d be able to put my best foot forward here at the combine, so I wanted to wait until the pro day.”
Even though Burrow didn’t participate at the combine, he met with several members of Cincinnati’s coaching staff and organization, including team president Mike Brown. Burrow had been training with Jordan Palmer in Dana Point, California, in preparation for pro day and the upcoming draft.
Since the Bengals had been deep into draft preparation before they coached the Senior Bowl in late January, Taylor said they feel good about the process despite the limitations forced by the global pandemic.
“We went through a long list of guys and we’ve been doing this for two months now,” Taylor said. “We feel like we’ll be really prepared come April.”