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Hindsight is 20/20: Joe Burrow

Scouts Note:

Welcome to Hindsight is 20/20. Here we will review our old evaluations. We will highlight what we got right and what we missed. All with the intention of becoming better scouts in the future. Revisiting old evaluations once a player has a large enough sample size is critical to avoid repetitive mistakes. Sometimes you know your wrong on a player after a single training camp practice, other times it takes years to realize the accuracy of your evaluation. This is a critical point that only increases the importance of being able to evaluate the tape, write up a proper report, and speak on who a player is. Learn these skills by signing up with Elite Scout School



QB #9 Joe Burrow, LAST, 2020

Date of Report:


Trait Grades

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Arm Strength:


Decision Making:




Pocket Presence:








Extend Plays:


Physical Strength:




Extend Plays



Rs SR. Aligns at QB for LAST. Transfer from OHST. Exceptional, unmatched production in 2019 that resulted in a Heisman trophy and national championship. 60/6 td/int ratio in 2019. Good athlete. Sufficient size; good Ht with lean frame. On the field, he is an exceptional QB prospect who plays with elite leadership, anticipation, accuracy, decision making, and clutch performance ability. He is the point guard who consistently dishes the ball to his playmakers appropriately while taking care of the football and stacking quality decisions on a play-by-play basis. Mechanics are solid. Soft, quiet feet in his drop. Gets hips and shoulders turned as he works through progressions. Fluid mover within the pocket. Feels the pocket well and maneuvers appropriately. Does get a little overzealous and quick to escape if he senses a collapse in the pocket. Poise overall is very good though. Flat-lined heart rate within the pocket. Willing to take a hit to make a play. As a passer, he is exceptional. Arm strength is just average but has plenty to make every throw at the NFL level and more than compensates with his timing and anticipation. On the rare occasion that his feet aren’t under him, the ball will flutter and die. Decision making is excellent. Identifies offensive advantageous and attacks accordingly. Takes care of the football and is willing to take a small profit on every play. Benefited from exceptional playmakers but had excellent awareness of who had the greatest mismatch and consistently got all his weapons involved. Manipulates defenders well with his eyes. Has excellent feel for where his receivers are at all times. Anticipation is rare. Frequently gets the ball out before WR is out of his break. Throws to a spot with great accuracy. Touch is rare. Layers the football at all levels with precision. Alters throw speed dependent on throw type. Takes velocity off when throwing early so his WR’s can locate and secure grab. Accuracy is excellent. Exceptional ball placement at all three levels. On the rare occasion he misses, it’s because he was lazy with his lower half. Has rare feel for the deep ball. Throws with exceptional touch and consistently able to drop the ball in the bucket. Accuracy on the run is good. Gets his shoulders aligned and gets hips through for an accurate and timely throw. He is clutch. Rose to the occasion at every moment during the 2019 season. As a runner, he is effective. Maintains a pass first mentality but can bail himself out with his legs if nothing is available. Particularly effective as a runner vs man coverage because defenders turn their back. Has enough ability to force a spy. Doesn’t have elite wiggle but enough agility to make the first guy miss fairly consistently. Also effective in the RPO game. Overall, he has all the ability to be an elite NFL QB. Very good to elite in so many important areas. Only concerns are why it took so long to see, why it only happened one year, and would it look the same without those weapons?

Year 1 Role

Burrow would compete for a starting job from day 1. 

Long Term Role

Difference Maker at the QB position long-term. 

One Liner

Exceptional QB w/ rare leadership, DM, anticipation, & acuracy. AA to win w/ his legs too.

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"Potential Difference Maker"

What I Got Right

Turns out that the vast majority of my evaluation has rung true at the NFL level. He has managed to transfer the skills that made him such an exceptional college QB in 2019 into the NFL in a hurry. He already shows great leadership, decision-making, accuracy, touch, and toughness. The grade given is how the player should perform once at maturity (typically year 3). I can confidently say that Joe Burrow is, if he isn’t already, going to be an elite NFL QB for a long time. Congratulations Cincinnati, you got a true difference-maker at the game’s most important position.

What I Got Wrong

Not much in this report is inaccurate at this point. No thanks to me, Joe Burrow was an easy college evaluation because he did so many things at such a high level. There are certain football players when you throw on the tape, they cause an internal reaction where you have to go tell someone just how damn good a football player they are. Joe Burrow’s tape produced that reaction. Some other players that gave me that feeling where Myles Garrett, Alvin Kamara, Chase Young, Nick Bosa, Derwin James, and Saquon Barkley to name a few. Burrow stacked so many essential traits together on tape that the only concern was how it hadn’t been seen sooner. His age, the high-quality surrounding talent, and lack of sample size were all causes for concern. In this case, the tape didn’t lie, and those concerns were insignificant. 

Takeaways for Future Evaluations

Trust your eyes. Despite not having high production/play across multiple seasons, Joe Burrow had arguably the greatest college season of all time. The greatness of one season should not be overlooked because it wasn’t done in multiple. This goes back to developing players and not giving up on them before they’ve hit their maturity. Could you imagine if he didn’t get that opportunity at LSU and instead decided to stay and platoon time with a former #2 overall high school recruit in Justin Fields. We’d probably be talking about this 6th rounder in year 2 beating out an established QB and leading his team on a deep playoff run. But this time his name wasn’t Tom, it’s Joe.

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