If you're hating on Joe Burrow at this point, you're just a bored contrarian
Listen, man. It’s late-February. I’m in the content business, so I get the need to generate interesting discussion. It’s no secret that in this business, we have to dig a little deeper this time of year. We cannot rely on games to generate content for us.
I’ll be honest. If it’s mid-October, I’m probably not writing about why I think Bret Bielema has become the cans of tuna in the back of the pantry. That’s not saying I’m creating “clickbait” or that I’m just firing off opinions for the heck of it. I truly believe that comp for Bielema. But in mid-October, that column isn’t making the cut. That’s because there are too many other more pressing midseason issues that need to be addressed.
But no, a slow news cycle is no reason to generate lazy, anti-Joe Burrow takes. If you’re doing that, you’re just a bored contrarian.
The most vocal offender is Colin Cowherd, who took the news of Burrow’s 9-inch hands and turned that into “he’s not a great prospect. He’s a great story.” In case you missed this horrifically weak take, well, watch at your own risk:
“Joe Burrow is not a great prospect. He’s a great story… It is remarkable to me when we dismiss stuff that matters. Arm, maturity, wonderlic, hand size. It all matters.” — @ColinCowherd pic.twitter.com/FN3zcqiLi8
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) February 25, 2020
Cowherd himself has admitted that his goal isn’t always to be right, but rather to be interesting. He’s neither in this argument.
We know that because Cowherd actually didn’t know Burrow’s story until he had to be informed by Urban Meyer on air during the middle of the 2019 season that he transferred from Ohio State. Cowherd thought that Ohio State told Burrow to “get out of there” and that Burrow was getting love in 2019 after “throwing a couple nice screen passes.”
Meanwhile, Cowherd said the only perfect quarterback prospects he ever saw were John Elway and Dan Marino. In case you were wondering, here’s a breakdown of what those 3 players did in their pre-draft seasons:
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(Not included in that was Marino’s Pitt squad scoring a combined 13 points against the 2 teams he faced that finished in the top 10 of the AP Poll.)
Also not included there is the fact that Burrow did that against the most battle-tested schedule in college football history as a 6-3, 220-pound quarterback who operated an offense that was brought in from the New Orleans Saints.
Am I even saying that Burrow is undoubtedly a better prospect than those guys? No. Obviously college stats aren’t everything. There’s mechanics, genetics, IQ and … hand size (more on that later).
But imagine looking at those numbers telling yourself that Marino, who was just a tad bigger than Burrow, is a perfect prospect and that Burrow isn’t even a “great” prospect. That’s what Cowherd did. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But opinions can be lazy, and opinions can be wrong. That checks both of those boxes.
You might say, “why take anything Cowherd has to say seriously?” After all, he’s the guy who claimed in that same argument that he knew when Vince Young was drafted that he wouldn’t work in the NFL because his throwing style reminded him of Tim Tebow … who was still in high school at the time.
Here’s the thing — the fact that Cowherd got a single retweet (and nearly 1,000 likes) on that suggests that there are other people who actually support this lazy, late-February take. They just watched Burrow deliver the best statistical season ever for a quarterback (that’s not debatable) against the most teams who finished in the top 15 of the AP Poll than we’ve ever seen a national champion face. It was as close to a perfect season as there was.
You don’t think Burrow is perfect? That’s fine. He doesn’t run like Lamar Jackson, and his arm isn’t on Josh Allen-levels of ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with thinking other quarterback prospects have been better. Shoot, I don’t even have a problem if you tell me you’d rather roll the dice on Tua Tagovailoa’s surgically-repaired hip than Burrow.
But don’t use your platform to try and say he’s not a great prospect and that some sort of media-driven narrative is why he’s the no-doubt No. 1 pick. All that says to me is that you’re bored and you’re looking for the zag.
Burrow’s 9-inch hands were essentially the first real negative story we’ve seen about him as a player/person in the last calendar year. It was like a pack of starved wolves finally got a chance to say something negative about Burrow, and they didn’t waste it (but they did ignore the fact that Patrick Mahomes just won a Super Bowl with hands that are 1/4 inch bigger than Burrow’s). Maybe that’s because we have a hater culture and we can’t accept when there’s a boring No. 1 overall pick.
The modern pre-draft process has essentially killed any possibility of there being the perfect prospect. It’s why we see rants like Cowherd’s or headlines on Yahoo Sports saying “Joe Burrow’s hand size is going to be a big topic of conversation.” Why? Because he’s as close to perfect as anything we saw and because it’s late-February, the idea of poking holes in that is going to stir more emotions than NBA storylines 2 months from the playoffs.
If Burrow isn’t immune from the modern pre-draft process, nobody is. It was different talking about sub-6 foot Kyler Murray or crotch-grabbing Baker Mayfield. Burrow wasn’t the prolific quarterback who played in irrelevant #Pac12AfterDark games after everyone had gone to bed like Jared Goff, nor was he the guy who regressed in his pre-draft season like Jameis Winston.
Those guys all had noteworthy flaws that were worth dissecting before being drafted as potential franchise-altering No. 1 overall picks. Those flaws created content. They gave the contrarian a leg to stand on just in case their career went south so they could say “see, I told you why this wouldn’t work.” Some people live for that stuff. It makes them feel validated.
And even if Cowherd and I had the same-size platform, he’s still going to get more traction for that opinion. That’s the way the internet works in 2020. He’s not trying to be right. He’s trying to be interesting.
But the reality is that Burrow, even with his small hands, is indeed a boring prospect at this point. Anyone suggesting he’s not a great prospect is doing it to avoid being boring.
Hopefully this proved you can actually keep people interested for 5 minutes of Burrow discussion without making lazy claims about his NFL potential.