USA TODAY Sports’ Michael Middlehurst Schwartz breaks down the top prospects heading into the NFL draft combine. USA TODAY
John Elway did it first. Eli Manning modernized the maneuver. Could Joe Burrow be next?
Both Elway and Manning were selected first overall in their respective drafts without suiting up for the team that selected them. In both cases, they forced trades to more desirable locations.
This week, a former No. 1 overall pick advised Burrow — the national champion Heisman winner who is considered by many a lock to go first to the Cincinnatti Bengals in April — to do the same.
“Pull an Eli Manning,” Steve Bartkowski advised Burrow and his family Sunday night, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, at an event honoring the former LSU quarterback for his Davey O’Brien Award.
Bartkowski told the Star-Telegram that he offered the advice he knows “what it’s like to go to a bottom-feeder team” given his experience with the Atlanta Falcons, who selected him No. 1 overall in 1975.
“I’d hate to see that happen to him to be honest,” he told the paper. “(The Falcons) beat me up. I spent more time at the hospital recuperating from injuries my first three years than I did throwing touchdowns. It was tough.”
The Bengals are coming off a 1-15 season in coach Zac Taylor’s first year. The organization has not won a playoff game since 1991 — going without a postseason berth since the 2015 season. Recently, Carson Palmer said he never felt like the team was trying to win the Super Bowl during his tenure there.
Manning famously refused to play for the then-San Diego Chargers and wound up playing his entire 16-year career for the New York Giants. After the Baltimore Colts drafted him in 1983, Elway said he was going to play baseball, until the Colts traded him to the Denver Broncos.
Burrow, who grew up in Athens, Ohio, has never indicated he wouldn’t play for the Bengals. He did, however, tell the Star-Telegram he held “leverage” in this draft scenario.
“I do have leverage,” Burrow said. “They have their process and I have my process. We haven’t even gotten to the (NFL) combine yet. There’s a lot of things that happen leading up to the draft and a lot of information gathered.”