Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow reached out to Peyton Manning to gauge what to expect during his rookie season, and the future Hall of Famer told the LSU product to work on learning how to become a better player.
“Yeah, Joe called me last week. Obviously we have somewhat of a relationship since he came down to our football camp last summer. I try to stay in touch with all the quarterbacks that come down to the camp if I can be a resource for them, especially as they approach their NFL dreams, but what an exciting year Joe had. He called me about some of the things that I tried to do when I was a rookie that maybe he can apply to his NFL career, looks like it’s going to be with to Cincinnati Bengals, and look when I told him I said: ‘Joe, when you’re the first pick in the NFL draft, you are going to a team that has really earned the first pick in the NFL draft.’ There are going to be so some holes there, and there’s a reason the Colts were picking number one that year. There’s a reason the Bengals are picking number one this year. ... So other people have to step up, have to give him some help. But for him I tried to tell him it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
"Look I lost more games my rookie year than I had my entire high school and college career combined. I threw 28 interceptions—that’s still an NFL record. If Joe wants to break that, Hannah, I’d be OK with that. We’d still be friends. But I tried to learn a lot that year. I played every game. Jim Mora never took me out, I learned some things in the fourth quarter of those blowouts about what it took to be an NFL quarterback, and the next year we went from 3-13 to 13-3. That wouldn’t have happened had I not hung in there and kind of learned the ropes as a rookie even though he took some bumps and bruises. So that’s what I tried to encourage Joe and all the NFL quarterbacks, that your rookie year is not gonna be the same as your senior year in college, but if you learn how fast these defensive backs are, how soon you have to get rid of the ball, understand defenses, you can become a better player and really get it going or year or two after that.”Burrow is coming off perhaps the greatest individual season in college football history, throwing for 5,671 yards and an NCAA-record 60 touchdowns against six interceptions while leading LSU to a national championship.
Manning struggled mightily his rookie year while leading an overmatched Colts team, throwing for 3,739 yards and 26 touchdowns against 28 picks. The Colts went 3-13, leading some to wonder if they made the wrong pick at the top of the 1998 draft.
One year later, the Colts were 13-3, and the franchise would miss the playoffs only once over the following 12 seasons.
Burrow is going to a similarly downtrodden franchise. The Bengals went 2-14 last season, as opposing offenses ran roughshod all over their porous defense and their skill-position players were overrun by injuries and disappointing performances.
Burrow was surrounded by the best supporting cast in college football last season. His experience will be far different when he makes the pro leap. How he handles that will likely determine whether he turns into a Peyton Manning or a Ryan Leaf for his class.