How long until Joe Burrow leads Bengals to playoffs? (sooner than you may think)

Expectations are high for No. 1 pick Joe Burrow but how soon can he take the Cincinnati Bengals back to the playoffs?

The Bengals were not good in 2019. They were terrible actually, and as a result, they wound up with the number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Luckily for them, there was a no brainer pick at that spot: Joe Burrow of LSU, who threw for over 5,600 yards and 60 touchdowns en route to a National Championship.

It’s tough for a rookie quarterback drafted early on to lead his team to the playoffs right off the bat, but it is possible. It happened with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in 2012 as well as Lamar Jackson in 2018 and while the Bengals aren’t quite set up as nicely as those three signal-callers were, Bucky Brooks of discussed why he thinks Burrow could make Cincinnati a playoff team sooner than we all think.

The Bengals have plenty of offensive weapons at Burrow’s disposal and that’s why they could be a sneaky team in 2020. One such playmaker is running back Joe Mixon, who rushed for 1,137 yards and had 287 receiving yards as well while scoring a total of eight touchdowns.

The Bengals are going to be well set-up in the wide receiver department too, as A.J. Green is still there and rookie Tee Higgins will provide a reliable WR2 for Burrow. Yes, Green is injured frequently, but it felt like whenever he was injured, Andy Dalton wasn’t the same guy. Green makes a huge difference and Burrow should have no problem finding him down the field.

Higgins was a great pick by Cincinnati too, as he totaled 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns for Clemson in 2019. As long as Burrow doesn’t bring up the National Championship Game, he and Higgins should be able to get on the same page early on.

Brooks also mentioned in his article that the Bengals are getting Jonah Williams back in 2020. Williams was Cincinnati’s first round pick in 2019 and missed the entire season due to injury, so having him along the o-line will be huge in protecting Burrow during his rookie campaign.

While the Bengals probably won’t win the AFC North, especially considering how good the Ravens are going to be again in 2020 and that the Steelers will have Big Ben back in the fold. Will they be anywhere near as bad as they were in 2019 though? No, but Brooks summed it up well.

The Bengals aren’t likely to make a worst-to-first turnaround in this AFC North with a rookie quarterback at the helm, but Burrow’s arrival coincides with a culture change that could result in the team forging a quicker-than-expected climb up the charts.

The first year with Burrow at the helm probably isn’t going to result in a playoff appearance. That being said, 2021 isn’t out of the question. 2020 will give Burrow a chance to make mistakes and learn from them so that in 2021, he can avoid making those same mistakes and take the next step.

The AFC North is a tough division, but the Bengals will play a fourth-place schedule in 2020, which should help them gain confidence and traction moving forward. If the Bengals continue to give Burrow talent after seeing what he can do in 2020, then Cincinnati being a playoff contender in 2021 is a very real possibility.

The Bengals are easy to count out each year because they’re the Bengals and, for the most part, are considered an organization that doesn’t spend much in free agency. Burrow is an exciting prospect at the quarterback position though and he’s going somewhere that has talent at the playmaking positions.

If Green can stay healthy and the offensive line is able to keep Burrow upright, don’t sleep on Cincinnati making things interesting as soon as this year.

Next: 2021 NFL Draft Big Board

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