If the Cincinnati Bengals want to win the AFC North, then drafting Chase Young out of Ohio State should be the first building block in what will be a multi-season makeover.
You always hear that you have to walk before you can run. That’s absolutely logical, and if you think about that in terms of NFL football, you want to win your division before you ever think about winning the Super Bowl. Again, absolutely logical. If you extend such a theory to the Cincinnati Bengals, drafting a quarterback with the first pick, might not be the best choice.
Without question, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is and should be at the top of a wishlist in Cincinnati. He’s a near-lock for the Heisman Trophy and will have a chance to shine and eliminate any doubt about his draft status with a big performance in the College Football Playoff.
Burrow could be a game-changer for the Bengals. He would be a building block and help reinvigorate a dying fanbase. However, how does he do in helping Cincinnati compete in a division with both Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield? On ESPN’s Get Up Thursday morning, re-seeding the playoffs was a topic that included a brief mention of the AFC North (begin listening at the 1-01-40 mark).
Before Bengals fans scoff at needing to beat Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, Baker at quarterback for a division rival is a significantly better prospect than what Cincinnati has now, a fading Andy Dalton.
It will be one thing to keep up with the young QB talent in Cleveland and in Baltimore. However, in the AFC North, to win anything is to go through the Ravens. This means to beat Baltimore, you need to find a way to contain Jackson, which is to way specifically, Cincinnati should be looking to draft Chase Young.
The reason for this is two-fold. As good as Burrow has been in 2019, it’s anyone’s guess how good he could be in the NFL. Don’t misunderstand, the Bengals can’t go wrong in drafting the player who is at the top of the 2020 quarterback class.
Still, how many times would Burrow directly affect games inside the division? Young as an edge rusher would potentially have a significant impact against both Jackson and Mayfield, not to mention an aging Ben Roethlisberger. If, as some contend (me included), that a quarterback is the fastest route to winning, I can’t entirely disagree.
If an organization is to make winning a division their top priority, then winning the AFC North means drafting to defend dynamic quarterback play. For the Bengals, you draft to stop Lamar Jackson. Young might ultimately be more impactful for a one or two-win team versus drafting the LSU signal-caller.
Maybe. Perhaps even likely.
I’ll end where I began-If you have to walk before you can run, if you need to win a division before thinking of winning a Super Bowl, then a team that needs to compete against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens need to think about how to stop Jackson. That’s a job Chase Young can be doing for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020 and beyond.