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Around the AFC North: Joe Burrow Won't Throw at Combine, but Would Play for Bengals

Louisiana State quarterback Joe Burrow speaks to the media during a press conference at the NFL scouting combine.
Louisiana State quarterback Joe Burrow speaks to the media during a press conference at the NFL scouting combine.

Bengals: Burrow Stays Cool Under Combine Spotlight

Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow drew a huge crowd at his NFL Combine media session, and he was ready to handle the attention. That was a good sign for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are expected to select the former LSU quarterback with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Burrow was cool in the pocket all season, leading LSU to the national championship. Over the past few weeks, reports surfaced that Burrow might be hesitant about playing for the Bengals, but he dispelled that notion at his press conference.

"I'm a ballplayer," said Burrow, who played high school football in Athens, Ohio. "Whoever takes me, I'm going to go show up. I'll play whoever for whoever drafts me. I'm just not going to be presumptuous about what they want to do. It's the draft. You never know what's going to happen."

Burrow said he wouldn't throw or participate in drills at the Combine, because LSU's lengthy season shortened his time to prepare.

"We played a month longer than everyone else and everyone else is training a month longer than us," Burrow said. "I feel like I wouldn't be able to put my best foot forward at the Combine. I wanted to wait until the pro day."

However, Burrow said it would be special to begin his NFL career with the Bengals so that family and friends could easily watch his home games. 

"It's two hours, fifteen minutes from my house," Burrow said. "I could go home for dinner if I wanted to. Not a lot of pro athletes could get to do that. Yeah, of course I want to be the first pick. That's every kid's dream. I've worked really, really hard for the opportunity and I'm blessed to be in this position. So I'm just really excited."

The buzz surrounding Burrow at the Combine grew louder during measurements on Monday, when his hand size was recorded at nine inches. That's small for a quarterback, but neither fumbling nor throwing have been an issue for Burrow, and he joked about the issue on social media, saying that he was contemplating retirement.

"If it's a glaring issue on film with turnovers, yeah, it's probably an issue," Burrow said. "But I didn't have a lot of fumbles or anything like that, so I just tried to make a little joke about it."

If Burrow joins the Bengals as expected, he will continue the influx of recent Heisman Trophy winners into the AFC North, joining Lamar Jackson with the Ravens and Baker Mayfield with the Browns. Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta only sees the division getting stronger.

"It's always been in my opinion one of the most competitive divisions," DeCosta said. "To see the young influx of talent at the quarterback position. Baker Mayfield is a tremendous talent. Lamar, we feel really good about him. Joe Burrow's one of the best quarterbacks we've seen in a long time. Ben (Roethlisberger) is a Hall of Famer. It just makes our division really fun. Every game is a dogfight. No easy games in the AFC North. We respect those guys very much. We can't wait to get started."

Steelers: Colbert Says Roethlisberger Could Be Better Player in 2020

The Pittsburgh Steelers released a video of Ben Roethlisberger throwing over the weekend, as his recovery from elbow surgery continues.

Asked about his quarterback at the Combine, Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert didn't temper expectations for Roethlisberger's recovery. Instead, Colbert suggested Roethlisberger could return an improved player after missing almost all of last season.

"The thing that is exciting about it is we might have a better Ben Roethlisberger coming out of this surgery," Colbert said. "He sat for a year, he didn't have wear and tear on his body for a year. Sure, he had a significant surgery, but we are optimistic he might be better."

Colbert said the Steelers would continue to take a patient approach with Roethlisberger's rehab, with the goal having him ready to start the regular season.

"The timeline is always going to be that we want to have Ben ready for game No. 1, whenever that is," Colbert said. "We will follow the doctor's orders to a T. With a guy like Ben, you have to be careful to hold him back a little bit if he progresses a little bit too aggressively, because we have to make sure he is there for September."

Browns: Better Fitness Could be an Offseason Key for Mayfield

Coming off a disappointing second season with the Browns, quarterback Baker Mayfield is hoping for a bounce-back season under new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and new Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Mayfield is already taking steps to get into better shape.

Asked about Mayfield at the Combine, Stefanski said he looked forward to getting his quarterback back into the team's facility in April.

"We've had conversations with each of our coaches about their players because when they come back in the building on April 6th, we're going to give them tangible things we want them to work on," Stefanski said. "They will get something. Here's what you need to work on. Here's what you need to improve and here's how you're going to do it. At this point in the offseason we can't really talk football with our guys, so I think April 6 is that big day there on the calendar where our guys get back in the building and start to have those conversations."

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