PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – APRIL 13
By Leo Haggerty

BENGALS HAVE A NO BRAINER

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.

The 2020 NFL Draft is just 10 days away.  And, as we’re all aware, the Draft was suppose to take place in Las Vegas. The Nevada city most probably would have had an extravaganza that set the bar to a height where no other venue would have been able to achieve or, let alone, exceed.

With the onslaught of COVID-19, all activities have been cancelled and rightfully so.  The 2020 Draft will be a virtual one and not the visual event that fans have come to expect for the safety of all that are involved.

Hopefully, Sin City will get another crack at hosting the Draft.  That, in my opinion, would be the fair thing to do and definitely worth the price of admission to attend, but I digress.

Cincinnati has the first pick in the Draft.  In my mind, the Bengals will select LSU QB Joe Burrow with that selection.

This is a no brainer.  Why, you ask?  Let me explain.

First, Burrow is from Ohio.  He went to high school just under 160 miles from The Queen City in Athens where his dad was the defensive coordinator at Ohio University.

In his senior year, he was named Mr. Football in the Buckeye State.  He was also chosen as the Gatorade 2014 Player of the Year.

From a public relations standpoint, this puts fannies in the seats.  An Ohio kid quarterbacking the Cincinnati Bengals is something that will increase attendance immediately at Paul Brown Stadium.

That shouldn’t be the overriding caveat for taking Burrow with the overall number one pick.  To, me it isn’t.

Second, and here’s the most important reason, I think he’s the real deal.  Here’s why I say that.

When you watch any draft program, take note of the highlights of a particular player.  If its against non-Power Five opponents, you may want to ask the question as to why there’s no footage of big play capability against big time competition.  It’s something to definitely take notice.

That’s surely not the case with Burrow.  He singlehandedly beat Clemson and that is a feat worth acknowledging.  Those Tigers, led by Head Coach Dabo Swinney, were the undefeated defending National Champions and were 14-0 going into the 2019 title game against the Bayou Tigers in New Orleans.

The guys in the orange jerseys hadn’t lost a game in the last 29 contest until Burrow showed up.  All he did in The big Easy was hang 42 points on a Clemson defense that hadn’t given up 24 points to any opponent all season.  463 yards through the air that equated to five touchdowns, and one on the ground for good measure, made a believer out of me.

On paper, LSU beat Clemson.  In reality, Joe Burrow beat those Tigers on the biggest stage that college football has to offer.  That sold me.

So, look for Burrow to go from being a Baton Rouge Tiger to a Bengal Tiger.   No trade.  No choosing another player. To me, it’s that simple.

Even the Bengals can’t screw this one up.  Or can they?

We’ll find out on April 23rd when Commissioner Roger Goodell say,”With the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select” and it’s game on.  In a country starved for any type of sporting achtivity, it will be a welcome distrction from the situation of the day.