Burrow says he’d play for Bengals if picked No. 1

NFL

INDIANAPOLIS — Joe Burrow stifled any speculation about avoiding the next stop in his career.

The former LSU quarterback said he will play for the Cincinnati Bengals if the franchise takes him with the top overall pick in April’s draft.

“I’m not going to not play,” Burrow told a throng of reporters at the NFL combine on Tuesday morning inside the Indiana Convention Center. “I’m a ballplayer. Whoever takes me, I’m going to go show up.”

During a media session that lasted for nearly 20 minutes, Burrow confirmed his intentions to play for the Bengals, if picked by Cincinnati, despite growing speculation that he might avoid the team without a playoff victory since 1991.

Most of the hubbub stemmed from Burrow’s lack of affirmative comments about playing in Cincinnati during the build-up to this week’s combine. The recent Heisman winner said the hesitancy was because he didn’t want to be presumptuous about what the Bengals were doing with the top pick.

“That’s why I’ve been noncommittal, because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Burrow said. “They might not pick me. They might fall in love with someone else.

“You guys kind of took that narrative and ran with it, but there’s never been anything like that from my end.”

On Feb. 17, Burrow referenced having “leverage” during a trip to Fort Worth to accept the Davey O’Brien award, which further fueled the conversation about potentially trying to force his way into another destination. Burrow said that comment was a reference to the combine process. He will not throw or work out in Indianapolis this week after a 15-game season at LSU that culminated in a national championship.

Even though he didn’t hear Burrow’s comments on Tuesday morning, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he was aware of what was said and wasn’t concerned about any of the banter.

“We know that when players are around us and get a chance to really know what we’re all about, they’re going to believe in what we’re doing and want to be a part of it,” Taylor said.

Burrow, meanwhile, brushed aside discussion concerning his hand size, which was measured at 9 inches at the combine, sources confirmed to ESPN. Per ESPN Stats & Information, the length from pinkie to thumb was tied for the smallest among first-round quarterbacks measured at the combine since 2008.

“These measurements, you can take so much for them,” Burrow said Tuesday. “If it’s a glaring issue on film with turnovers, yeah, it’s probably an issue. But I didn’t have a lot of fumbles or anything like that, so I just tried to make a little joke about it.”

After the Bengals finished with the worst record in the league during Taylor’s first season, Cincinnati was awarded the first pick in the NFL draft for the first time since 2003. The Bengals will meet with Burrow on Wednesday as they continue the process of potentially finding their next franchise quarterback.

Burrow is a graduate of Athens High, which is less than a three hours east of Cincinnati.

“I could go home for dinner if I wanted to,” Burrow said. “Not a lot of pro athletes could get to do that.”

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