So far, the Bengals are handling the number one pick right
There is a long time between now and April’s NFL draft. The Cincinnati Bengals are taking full advantage of the top overall pick and its value.
The first overall draft pick is something no team wants to earn. However, once an organization gets it, the chance to control the entire NFL draft and shape the future of a franchise cannot be taken lightly or overstated.
The Cincinnati Bengals find themselves in that spot this year. Even though fans and media declare each team a winner or loser the second the draft ends, it will take at least two years to see how the Bengals or any of the other teams truly did in the 2020 draft.
However, owning the top pick means a game of verbal poker will go on from now until the opening night of the draft in Las Vegas.
The Bengals have nailed it this thus far. They need to be careful not to reveal their plans too quickly to the rest of the league. Still, they also need to give the appearance of at least having a plan to avoid drifting even further into laughingstock territory. It is a fine line that the Bengals are walking very well right now.
For someone as well connected as Adam Schefter to guarantee that the Bengals will take Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, as he does in the ESPN YouTube video below, speaks volumes. It sends a clear signal to the rest of the league that the Bengals covet Burrow. Who wouldn’t after the year he just had? Still, things like Schefter’s statement only leak out on to television if the team wants them to, or at least don’t mind it.
However, for every take like Schefter’s, you can find other reports to refute it. For example, the Brown family’s second in command, Duke Tobin, talking about at least a mild openness to trading the top pick or Bengals coaches talking up other prospects like Justin Herbert.
The Cincinnati front office may have already zeroed in on Burrow privately as much as the fans have publicly. Even if that is the case, there is no reason to reveal that to the world until they are on the clock on April 23rd. There is no benefit to any other approach. This is a franchise that just went 2-14 and needs to keep all its options open until it cannot any longer. At least publicly, the Bengals seem to understand that, which is a good thing.