No one would ever say Joe Burrow lacks confidence.
"Absolutely not. I knew that I was gonna play really well my senior year. And I was going into it thinking I was one of the best guys in the country. But I know what recruiting is, and I know how the draft is. It's always interesting seeing where people go and seeing who ends up panning out. So I knew I had a chance to be a really good pro. But I didn't think I could do anything to get myself up to the No. 1 pick in the draft.
"I expected to have the kind of season that I had. But I didn't expect for it to propel me to the No. 1 pick. I thought I was gonna go third, fourth round."
Burrow was viewed as a potential late-round pick after a largely forgettable college career before 2019. He responded with perhaps the single greatest season ever, throwing for 5,671 yards and an NCAA record 60 touchdowns against six interceptions while leading LSU to a national championship.
The Cincinnati Bengals will select Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick Thursday night, barring some wildly unforeseen change of plans. He will be the first quarterback they've taken in Round 1 since Carson Palmer in 2003, another touted star who disappointed early in his college career before putting it all together as an upperclassman.
While Palmer never became a superstar, he did spend 14 seasons in the NFL and started 181 games. Burrow and the Bengals have a much higher ceiling in mind for this No. 1 overall pick, but a Palmer-esque career would be a far better result than the Bengals' attempt at a franchise quarterback before Palmer (Akili Smith).
Burrow will arrive in Cincinnati with better skill-position help than most young quarterbacks receive. Joe Mixon is a versatile running back coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season, Tyler Boyd is a 25-year-old coming off his second straight 1,000-yard receiving campaign, and A.J. Green is expected to be healthy after missing the entire 2019 season.
While it will pale in comparison to the superstar-laden roster he had at LSU, Burrow should be in a great position in year one.