Joe Burrow has what it takes to break Baker Mayfield’s record

Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images /

Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow has what it takes to break the rookie TD record.

Although there has been plenty of fanfare throughout the 2020 offseason, the hype for Cincinnati Bengals top draft pick Joe Burrow already feels like it’s diminished a bit.

Maybe that’s not true among Cincinnati fans, but the expectation for top draft picks is immense these days, and with Burrow coming off the best single-season for a quarterback at the college level I have ever seen, it’s understandable that NFL fans just think he’s going to step in and be good as a rookie.

But how good?

Every rookie goes through struggles. No one has ever come off of a 40 or 50 (or in Burrow’s case, 60) touchdown season in college and duplicated the exact same success in the NFL. It just doesn’t work like that.

For Burrow, however, the story could be a bit different.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Burrow is going to come into the NFL and light it up to the tune of 50 or 60 touchdown passes, but he has what it takes to break Baker Mayfield’s 2018 record of 27 touchdown passes as a rookie.

Burrow’s supporting cast vs. Baker’s

Baker Mayfield’s 2018 target share

  • 1. Jarvis Landry – 149 targets
  • 2. David Njoku (TE) – 88 targets
  • 3. Antonio Callaway – 79 targets
  • 4. Duke Johnson (RB) – 62 targets
  • 5. Rashard Higgins – 53 targets

Burrow’s projected top 5 2020 target share

  • 1. AJ Green
  • 2. Tyler Boyd
  • 3. John Ross
  • 4. Joe Mixon (RB)
  • 5. Drew Sample (TE)

This could obviously fluctuate based on injury or anything else unforeseen, but Burrow’s crop of five players to distribute his targets to, at least on paper, is worlds better than what Mayfield had in 2018 with the Browns.

Burrow also showed an even better ability, at least in a one-year vacuum, to distribute the ball to different receivers at every level of the field in his final season at LSU than Baker did in his final season at Oklahoma.

Burrow’s improvement last season in pocket presence and avoiding pressure while making all kinds of throws downfield also bodes well for him in his transition to the next level. Even if the Bengals’ offensive line is not other-worldly this season, Burrow is set up for success and has plenty of playmakers at the skill positions to get the ball to quickly.

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It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Burrow to shoot for 30 touchdowns in his rookie season, or at least beating Mayfield’s record by throwing 28 or more.