Joe Burrow became the first player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft when the Cincinnati Bengals took the plunge on the former Louisiana State University Tigers quarterback. Burrow was the outstanding player in the college game last season, winning the Heisman Trophy for his exploits.
He guided the LSU Tigers to their first National Championship triumph since 2007 when they defeated Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers in January in his final act for the team. The decision by the Bengals to use their first pick on him surprised no one as he was the heavy favourite in the NFL Draft betting in the lead-up to the event. Lawrence could well follow in the footsteps of Burrow by being the next quarterback selected first overall if he builds on two impressive seasons with Clemson.
Burrow faces a challenge in delivering success to the Bengals, who finished with a 2-14 record in the 2019 campaign. We’ll now look back at some of the recent quarterbacks taken with the first overall pick to see how they have fared in the NFL.
Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)
Murray won the Heisman Trophy in 2018 before being selected first overall by the Cardinals in the 2019 Draft. The team had endured a poor outing in the 2018 campaign, posting a 3-13 record, which resulted in the firing of Steve Wilks. Kliff Kingsbury arrived as the new head coach and wasted no time to bolster his offense by selecting Murray. There were doubts about the size of Murray entering the 2019 Draft, standing at 5ft 10in and 207lbs.
However, he defied his critics with a solid performance in his rookie season. The 22-year-old threw for 3,722 yards and rushed for another 544, highlighting the dual-threat he poses from behind the line of scrimmage. His touchdown to interception was impressive, throwing 20 strikes to only 12 picks. There is plenty of room for growth in his second term that will only be boosted by the arrival of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins following his trade from the Houston Texans. However, the NFC West remains a tough division and it will take exemplary play from Murray to guide the Cardinals back towards the post-season.
Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns)
The Browns made a huge call with the first pick in the 2018 Draft to select Mayfield. They passed on the chance to select either Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson in the 2017 Draft, which in hindsight was the wrong decision. Mayfield had an impressive college career with the Oklahoma Sooners and won the Heisman in 2017.
He was the consensus pick to be the first quarterback selected in the 2018 Draft, although reports had linked the Browns with Sam Darnold. Cleveland opted with Mayfield and the basis of his rookie season it appeared to be the correct decision. Once Hue Jackson was fired, and a combination of Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens took the reins, Mayfield flourished leading the Browns to victories in five out of their seven final games.
He ended the campaign with 27 touchdowns – the most by a rookie quarterback in the history of the NFL. Kitchens was hired as the full-time replacement for Jackson and the Browns reloaded to add All-Pro wideout Odell Beckham Jr to their roster. Expectations were raised, but Mayfield and company failed to rise to the occasion. He threw 21 interceptions in a 6-10 term for the Browns, missing the playoffs for the 16th year on the bounce. Mayfield is now entering a make-or-break third year under his third head coach in Kevin Stefanski. Another poor season could spell the end for his time in Cleveland.