Was Justin Herbert’s week with the Bengals’ coaching staff at the Senior Bowl enough to cause them to seriously consider taking him first overall?
It seems difficult to remember a time when Joe Burrow wasn’t the face of the Cincinnati Bengals. Since his selection, there has been a whirlwind of events that make the draft feel like a distant memory. Just a few short months ago though, narratives were circulating that suggested the Queen City would not be home to the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
One of the most prominent rumors to surface during that time was that some within the organization preferred Justin Herbert over Burrow. After hearing what offensive coordinator Brian Callahan recently had to say to Bengals’ Senior Writer Geoff Hobson, it would be fair to assume that rumbling may have held some truth to it.
"“We liked Herbert and we had the best evaluation you can get on a quarterback. We had him for a whole week, so you could see how fast he could learn an offense, how he could bring other guys along and how he responded in stressful situations. We left there feeling very positive about him.”"
Callahan then goes on to say that he didn’t reach the conclusion that Burrow was the best of the signal-callers in the 2020 draft class until early April.
Considering the team played their final game of the 2019 season in late December, allowing the coaching staff to enter evaluation mode early, it seems he took an awfully long time to come to a conclusion that most among the football world had for months. For comparison’s sake, the Bengals’ college scouting director, Mike Potts, said Burrow was the number one pick in his mind before he even knew the Bengals would lock up the top selection.
Callahan’s evaluation timeline could simply be chalked up to him reserving his judgment in case any new developments arose or he could have seriously been impressed with Herbert enough that he was considering rating him higher than Burrow.
Either way, it doesn’t have a significant impact on the Bengals’ current situation. Burrow will be the man under center for the foreseeable future.
However, this information does give the orange and black faithful clues as to how the coaching staff goes about their evaluation process for the draft. It’s hints like these that could lead to better predictions of their actions in the future and allows fans to determine which narratives are generated to create buzz and which may actually hold truth.