The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t gotten to test out No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow with their offense yet amid COVID-19 shutdowns, but they will be counting on him to help them turn things around this fall following a two-win first season for head coach Zac Taylor.
Cincinnati has endured four straight losing seasons, which came after a streak of five consecutive playoff trips, and the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. Burrow, the former LSU quarterback, is coming off a national championship and has always been with winning teams.
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Here is a look at how some of the most recent top-drafted quarterbacks did as rookies, dating back to the last time the Bengals had the No. 1 overall pick:
2019: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
After his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2018, Murray decided to forego his senior season and a professional baseball contract with the Oakland A’s to enter the NFL Draft. Murray started all 16 games as a rookie, going 5-10-1 while passing for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. It was good enough to earn him the Associated Press Rookie Offensive Player of the Year award.
2018: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Mayfield, picked No. 1 overall following an 0-16 season for Cleveland, made his NFL debut in Week 3, replacing an injured Tyrod Taylor with the Browns trailing the Jets 14-0. He threw for 201 yards and led Cleveland’s comeback for a 21-17 victory, ending their winless streak at 19 games. Mayfield finished the season as the starter and the Browns went 6-7 in those games as he finished with 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He was 6-10 last year with similar numbers.
2016: Jared Goff, L.A. Rams
Goff spent the first nine games as the backup to Case Keenum but was named the starter for the Nov. 20 game against the Dolphins and finished the season in that role. He went winless in seven starts, throwing for 1,089 yards and five touchdowns with seven interceptions, but he bounced back the following season to lead the Rams to back-to-back playoff seasons, including a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots in 2018, which was Zac Taylor’s last game before being hired by the Bengals.
2015: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston’s first career pass, as the Bucs’ started to open the season, was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, but he went on to set franchise rookie records in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. He finished the year with 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns with 15 interceptions and was just 23 yards short of the franchise record. Tampa Bay went 6-10 that season but finished 9-7 the next year. Last season, he topped 5,000 yards passing for the first time in his career but threw 30 interceptions and now he is with the Saints.
2012: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck served as Peyton Manning’s successor and led the Colts to 11-5 records in each of his first three seasons, including his rookie year in which he passed for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. He earned Pro Bowl selections each of those first three years, but injuries set him back the next two years before an NFL Comeback Player of the Year campaign in 2018, which ended up being his last before retiring.
2011: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Newton was named the Panthers’ starter to open the 2011 season, ahead of Jimmy Clausen and Derek Anderson, and that proved to be a wise decision. Although the Panthers were just 6-10, Newton earned a Pro Bowl selection after throwing for 4,051 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 16 starts, to go along with 706 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns on the ground. He led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 in 2015 but lost to the Broncos. He currently remains a free agent.
2010: Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Bradford won the starting job over A.J. Feeley to open the season and completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns with 15 interceptions, earning the Associated Press Rookie Offensive Player of the Year award while the Rams went 7-9. That’s about as good as it got for the former Oklahoma standout, though, as he never won more than seven games during his nine-year NFL career.
2009: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stafford beat out Daunte Culpepper to open the season as the Lions’ starting quarterback and threw for 2,267 yards and 13 touchdowns with 20 interceptions in 10 starts before ending the year on injured reserve because of a minor knee issue. The Lions were 2-8 under Stafford that year, and he was limited to three games in 2010 because of shoulder injuries, but led Detroit to a 10-6 finish in 2011.
2007: JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders
Russell held out of training camp and into the first week of the regular season in 2007 after failing to reach a contract agreement with the Raiders. Upon signing Sept. 12, he was kept on the bench until his debut Dec. 2, 2007, when he entered in the second quarter against the Broncos in relief of Josh McCown. He made four total appearances, including his first start in the season finale against the Chargers, but the Raiders lost that game and Russell went on to an unsuccessful three-year NFL career while facing criticism of a lack of work ethic.
2005: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
The former Utah standout played nine games with seven starts as a rookie but went 2-5 in those games while completing just 50.9 percent of his passes for 875 yards and one touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Although he improved in Year 2 for a 7-9 record, his first winning season didn’t come until 2011 – the first of eight straight.
2004: Eli Manning, New York Giants
After getting drafted first overall by the San Diego Chargers, Manning immediately was traded to the Giants, as the former Ole Miss standout had said he wouldn’t play for the Chargers. Manning went 1-6 in seven starts as a rookie, eventually replacing Kurt Warner, but as a full-time starter in 2005, he led the Giants to an 11-5 season, throwing for 3,762 yards and 24 touchdowns with 17 interceptions. Two years later, he quarterbacked the Giants to an improbable Super Bowl win over the Patriots, a feat he repeated in 2011 as well.
2003: Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
Palmer was the Bengals’ last No. 1 overall pick before Burrow. After leading USC to an 11-2 finish and winning the Heisman Trophy in 2002, Palmer became Marvin Lewis’ first draft pick with the Bengals, but spent his rookie year learning under veteran Jon Kitna and didn’t take a single snap outside of practice. In 2004, he started 13 games and complete 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,897 yards and 18 touchdowns with 18 interceptions, as the Bengals went 6-7 in those games before finishing 8-8 for the second straight year. (Cincinnati went 2-14 in Dick LeBeau’s first year). Palmer led the Bengals to an 11-5 record in 2005, the team’s first winning season and playoff appearance in 15 years.
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