Heisman winner Joe Burrow solidifies status as top draft pick

Louisiana State quarterback Joe Burrow stepped to the dais on Saturday night, accepting his Heisman Trophy and appearing at ease with the bright lights on him. He may want to get used to that.

According to 13 NFL GMs, executives and scouting directors, the LSU star's transcendent season has likely vaulted him to the top of draft boards across the league.

Every evaluator contacted over the course of the week viewed Burrow as the top QB over Oregon's Justin Herbert, and some said it was not close. Similarly, it was nearly unanimous among those who discussed the situation with NFL.com that whoever has the top pick -- it would be the Bengals if the season ended now -- will choose between Burrow and Ohio State pass-rusher Chase Young (if he declares).

Burrow's dramatic ascendance for No. 1 LSU includes the 6-foot-4, 216-pounder going 342 for 439 (77.9 percent) passing for 4,715 yards with 48 touchdowns and just six interceptions against the nation's toughest competition. He won the Heisman by the largest margin in history, with 1,846 total points.

It has all left him in the position of being poised to be a top two pick. Here is a sample of the views from top evaluators who requested anonymity.

» "I think he goes No. 1 if a team that needs a QB has the pick. If the Giants end up with the pick, it's probably Chase Young. I think (Burrow) has proven this year that he's the best guy in this draft class. Smart, tough as (heck), accurate and his team obviously loves him since they carried him off the field last week."

» "Like him. Definitely think he goes top five. Tough to argue he's not the top QB."

» "If it's Cincy, no doubt he's first overall. He's improved his leadership, grit and overall accuracy and decision-making since 2018. ... (Passing game coordinator Joe Brady) coming over from New Orleans really helped his growth tremendously and shows he can operate a pro system. ... Much better athlete than given credit for."

» "I think he has something unique and has the stuff to be at least a very good QB in the league in the right setting. There's definitely something to him. He's pick 1, 2 or 3. From the tape only, he's got that winning ability. Enough athletic ability, enough arm talent, but definitely the ability to lead people. He's got the kind of thing where he can talk to the campus president, the head coach and the wide receivers from New Orleans. As far as arm strength, he's good enough. How many times do you need to throw it 70 yards in the air?"

» "Awesome guy and leader. Intangibles are off the charts. He will go higher than his talent level. He will be the most ready NFL QB prospect in terms of handling an NFL offense, terminology, reads and the demands of the position. He has an average plus arm and they don't ask him to make difficult throws. Has a lot of talent around him and they call a game that allows him to put the ball in playmakers' hands. I expect him to go in the first because he will adapt quickly to the NFL game, his maturity and ability to command an offense."

» "You aren't going to go wrong with that dude. Everyone loves the guy. If they don't, they have their own issues. A top-tier player."

» "I think he is an excellent QB, and there is very little he can't do. He's a top three QB. I'm not sure if he's a top three pick, but upper half of Round 1."

» "Has played phenomenally well in 2019. Calmness in pocket is rare for a college player. Went from 57 percent to 78 percent (completion percentage) due to system change, full offseason and improved receivers. Leadership and connection to entire team and building is impressive. Could go as high as No. 1, and no way he gets out of top 10. Not a huge arm at all, but throws a very catchable ball with anticipation."

»"With the first 1 or 2 or 3 games, you're like, 'OK, who is this guy?' It was just ridiculous. Then you went into 6, 8, 10 games and it's every week. The level of execution and efficiency is rare. It's just the way he operates. It's pretty cool. And so much of the other stuff will get figured out. There are no perfect players. But what he's done -- he's done a really good job."

»"His strength is his brain. The guy has a 4.0, and he can go to medical school if he wants. Very instinctive and what great work ethic. He's kinda OCD in that he wants everything perfect. Film junkie, gym rat. Plus, he's earned everything he's gotten, and he's been told no, so he won't melt away. He goes through his progressions. He's tough, he's a guy who influences other people in the locker room and guys love him. Everything you want DNA-wise. Not overly physical. He's kind of a cut thrower, but he hits targets. If you separated his clips, he wouldn't make your eyes pop out of your head. It's not like the kid from Clemson, who you just love to watch throw. You'd love a guy who you pick that high to be a difference-maker talent-wise to tilt the field. But this guy is a safe pick. The Oregon kid is more talented, but Joe is a better prospect."

»"He's really very good. Poised, competitive, has swag, doesn't have an explosive arm, but highly accurate and can be mobile. Big, lean, long, but the whole package. Really good. He doesn't have the powerful arm, but accurate and throws on time with good anticipation. Highly competitive and processes quickly. Doesn't have dominant physical trades, but really good in all areas. There aren't many things you can nitpick. He plays his biggest in the biggest games."

»"Very accurate, poised decision-maker and thrower who always knows what to do with the football. He goes through his progressions, has a great feel for the defense and where everyone is. He can identify the right read and just operates it really well and gets it into the hands of his playmakers. He's a sneaky good athlete and runs for a lot of yards if the play breaks down. Great pocket mobility and has a great feel. He's kind of like Matt Ryan. He can get out of trouble in the pocket. What he's done this year, it's hard to say he's not the top QB. Consistently, every week, the biggest games. All of them. There are other good players, but it's hard to pick them over him."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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