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Bengals' Tobin: No decision has been made on top pick

With just over three months to go before the 2020 NFL Draft begins, Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 1 overall already feels like a done deal, a sure thing, a fait accompli, etc.

Don't tell that to Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin.

In light of a report that Cincinnati has no intention of trading the top draft pick, ostensibly with the purpose of using it to select the Heisman Trophy-winning, record-setting, national champion Burrow, Tobin said Monday that the Bengals are nowhere near making such an evaluation.

"That's news to me," Tobin told Geoff Hobson of the team's website. "I don't know that any decision has been made for what we're going to do in April. We're early in the process.

"We certainly haven't had any meetings to determine that at this point. Those will be meetings we'll have as we go through the process."

Cincinnati rode a league-worst 2-14 record to the top pick in the draft, its first No. 1 overall selection since 2003 (Carson Palmer), and the right to coach the South in this week's Reese's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Though trading picks isn't an area the Bengals are most often associated with, Tobin told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on the RapSheet & Friends Podcast that they will look at all options.

"It's something that we talk about a lot," Tobin said. "NFL work, a lot of it's behind the scenes and stuff that never gets done. Where you're talking to players about potential signing them as free agents, where you're talking about moving picks that you eventually don't. But there's a lot of work behind the scenes of things that don't get done. And that's, you know, what we're tasked with right now is finding out how to best utilize the capital that we have, quote, earned in this draft and use it to our best advantage."

A natural fit to join the Bengals in late April, given his Ohio upbringing and Andy Dalton's age, Burrow won't meet the organization this weekend. The LSU quarterback declined on Saturday an invite to the Senior Bowl. It's unclear whether he will work out at or attend the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts Feb. 23.

Burrow, who threw a collegiate-record 60 touchdown passes as a redshirt senior, would reportedly be "happy" to join the Bengals, according to his father. Cincinnati is similarly high on the 23-year-old quarterback; Bengals QB coach Alex Van Pelt said last week that Burrow "definitely checks off a lot of boxes." Tobin concurs.

"He had a wonderful year, a year very few people have had," Tobin added of Burrow. "And their team had the same success. The way the coaches put the group together, the schematics that they had, the culture that they built all came together and the players were extremely well coached and with that comes success. When you start winning close games, you build camaraderie as a group and when you watched them you could really see it building and they became a complete team."

But for Burrow to become a Bengal and join second-year coach Zac Taylor's culture, Cincinnati will have to first complete its evaluation process, all the while warding off suitors who might want to trade into the top overall selection, potentially using a starting-caliber QB as bait.

The Bengals are keeping their options open, even though Burrow is unquestionably the top option on the board. At least for now.

"I think right now, I would be open to leaving everything on the table, because we haven't decided anything yet," Tobin told Rapoport. "I would not be open to eliminating options as we sit here at the Senior Bowl. When we still have the combine to go through, we still have all of the March and April draft prep to go to. We still have our own internal evaluations to go to. We're just starting the process with our coaches getting involved In the scouting area and it's just way too early to eliminate anything. As we go through, it'll become clear to us. It's gotta become clear as a staff. Where there might be individuals who feel one way or the other, but as a staff we haven't gotten together and collectively made those decisions. That's what we'll be tasked with as we go forward."

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