After 20 years of NFL Draft evaluation, Todd McShay explains how Joe Burrow has done something the ESPN analyst has never seen
If Joe Burrow finishes out his incredible senior season on a high note, there’s an outstanding chance he will be selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
That’s not much of a stretch to suggest at this point but back in August before LSU’s march to an undefeated regular season began, you likely would have been laughed off had you made that bold prediction.
But don’t take our word for it, just look at what ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay recently had to say on the Ryen Russillo Podcast. Even some of the most experienced draft evaluators had no idea this type of rise was possible for LSU’s quarterback.
“I had a Day Three grade (for Joe Burrow) after watching a bunch of tape of him last year, and he played it a major program last year,” McShay said. “He transferred in but it was a full season at LSU. And I just thought he was a guy. I thought he was going to be, you know, the ceiling was a good (NFL) backup. And to see the progression this year has been remarkable.
“And, you know, I haven’t seen anything like it in 20 years of doing this. And I asked (Mel) Kiper recently, just for some perspective, if he’s ever seen anything like it with this kind of situation and he says he can never remember a case where you’ve seen a full year at a big-time program. And then the next year there’s so much difference.”
Just a few months ago, McShay was predicting Burrow to be drafted somewhere between Round 4 and Round 7 but now that he’s seen the progression from LSU’s quarterback, he’d be willing to take Burrow No. 1 overall. That’s an incredible rise and unlike many others we’ve seen in draft history.
While you could point to last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Kyler Murray, taking a similar rise, McShay notes that much of Murray’s ascension had to do with the fact everyone assumed he was going to play Major League Baseball, not pursue and NFL career.
“So what’s the difference? Joe Brady comes in, and opens up the offense and it’s something that’s more comfortable for Joe Burrow,” McShay continued. “It’s something, it’s a system that is a lot more like what he played in high school and the principles of what he was learning at Ohio State before transferring. I think you see Clyde Edward-Helaire emerge as one of the great back in college football, the offensive line is protecting a little bit better, the young wide receivers from a year ago had grown up and you saw Joe get more confidence in those guys and giving them chances to go up and make some plays.
“And so I think you combine all of those things, but at the end of the day, you have to make an evaluation on this guy. And from what I’ve seen from the beginning of this year to the end. And I’m talking about elite pocket presence. The ability to when that outside rush is coming, climb the ladder, keep your eyes on the same plane, inside rush is coming, fly but stay in the pocket, keep your eyes on the same plane and be ready to pull the trigger.”
McShay made one final note on Burrow’s game that he really likes and that’s keeping his eyes downfield when being mobile in the pocket. That’s been a key element to the LSU quarterback’s game this season and something college defenses have no answer for as they struggle to get him down on the ground.
“As you watch Aaron Rodgers, I think he’s as good as there is in business at this. And that’s always moving around, but never really looking at the pass rush, always reading your progression, and when the receiver finally breaks open, his feet his lower body and his upper body are tied together, and they’re ready to rip,” McShay noted.
“And that’s that scene a lot of that out of Joe Burrow this season and you know the accuracy and the toughness too. It’s such a huge part of the game and I know, quarterbacks don’t get hit as much, this dude has gotten hit a lot this year, and it’s not like he’s pulling himself up off the mat. He’s popping up and ready to go. And I’ve been really impressed with how much bigger and stronger he’s gotten without losing mobility, and then how tough he has been from beginning to end and you can just see the confidence every single week growing in this young man.”