Joe Burrow is getting a head start on his rookie year by learning from one of the best — and statistically worst — to ever do it.
The presumptive No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday with the first round, recently called Peyton Manning to pick his brain about being a rookie quarterback, Manning said Sunday on ESPN. Before Burrow goes to the Bengals with the top pick, the LSU product wanted to learn from Manning, who went to the Colts with the top pick in 1998.
“He called me about some of the things that I tried to do as a rookie that maybe he can apply to his NFL career,” Manning said. “Looks like it’s going to be for the Cincinnati Bengals. What I told him: ‘Look, Joe, if you’re the first pick in the NFL Draft, you are going to a team that has earned the first pick in the NFL Draft. There are going to be some holes there. There’s a reason the Colts were picking No. 1 that year. There’s a reason the Bengals are picking No. 1 this year.’”
Manning, who took over a Colts team that was coming off a 3-13 season, went on to have a Hall of Fame career, winning five MVPs and two Super Bowls along the way. But he certainly took some lumps in his first year under center, throwing a rookie-record 28 interceptions in 1998.
“I threw 28 interceptions my first year. That’s still an NFL record. If Joe wants to break that, I’d be OK with that, we’d still be friends,” Manning joked.
The Colts went 3-13 again that season before Manning helped turn the franchise around.
Barring a shocker, Burrow will be taking over a Bengals team that went 2-14 last season and hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990. Like Manning before him, Burrow is coming off a highly successful college career in which he led LSU to a national championship. It might not be as smooth sailing right away in the NFL, Manning told him, but his rookie season will be important for his development.
“[Then-Colts coach] Jim Mora never took me out,” Manning said. “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 if I hadn’t have hung in there and learned the ropes as a rookie, even though we took some bumps and bruises.
“So that’s what I tried to encourage Joe and all the other rookie quarterbacks … that your rookie year is not going to be the same as your senior year in college. But if you learn how fast the 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 the year or two after that.”
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