The Cincinnati Bengals appeared to have the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft locked up. Then they pulled off a miracle comeback to force overtime in Week 16.
After trailing 35-12 to the Miami Dolphins midway through the fourth quarter, the Bengals made a furious late push with three fourth-quarter touchdowns and two two-point conversions to force overtime as regulation expired.
Instead of laying over dead and accepting the top pick next spring, the Bengals fought for their draft lives. No tanking in this game, it would appear.
Andy Dalton — the Bengals QB who could be replaced in the draft — threw for four TD passes and 386 yards in a huge regulation performance. It looked like a man who didn’t want to relinquish his job.
After the two teams traded punts in overtime, the Dolphins took care of business and kicked the game-winning field goal in a 38-35 final.
Yes, the Bengals are picking first overall in 2020 ... but they almost couldn’t even wrap that up on Sunday. Now, no matter what the Bengals or anyone else does in Week 17, it won’t change the order.
On to Cincinnati
Does this mean Joe Burrow is coming home to Ohio?
It’s no guarantee that Dalton is a goner, but the team can move on from him without suffering any dead money on their salary cap. Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner who grew up a few hours down the road in Athens, Ohio, is an option for the Bengals as they hit the restart button.
This will be the fourth time in league history that the Bengals will have picked first overall. They took Ohio State defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson first in 1994, followed the next year by Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter. The last time the Bengals had the top selection, they took USC QB Carson Palmer in 2003.
Palmer is one of 21 Heisman winners to be picked in the top overall spot. The past two No. 1 picks, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, both won the Heisman. Burrow’s rapid ascent this season might be cause for concern for some wondering if he’s worth the top pick, but Palmer’s rise was very similar as he followed a poor junior season with a brilliant senior campaign.
The Bengals also could stay local and draft Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young, whom many NFL teams could rate as the top overall prospect.
Redskins picking No. 2?
The Giants entered Sunday in the No. 2 overall position for the 2020 draft, but they moved out of that spot for now by beating the Redskins — also in overtime.
The Dolphins and Giants both won Sunday, upping their win totals to four. Washington enters Week 17 with a 3-12 record. The only other three-win team entering Week 16 was the Detroit Lions, but they also had a Week 1 tie.
That means the Redskins are in the driver’s seat for the second overall selection, and that could mean being in position to take Young if the Bengals pick Burrow. Pass rusher might not be the Redskins’ biggest need, having traded up into Round 1 to take Montez Sweat in April and they still have Ryan Kerrigan on the roster.
But passing on Young could be a huge mistake, too. He has been as good or better than previous Ohio State pass rushers Joey and Nick Bosa, both of whom were top-three draft picks. We also don’t know who will be making the picks for the Redskins, who could move on from Bruce Allen in the offseason.
And losing could make the GM job there even more attractive. Picking a quarterback also could be an option, even though the Redskins used their first first-rounder in 2019 on QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Haskins and Young were teammates with the Buckeyes, along with the Redskins’ impressive rookie receiver, Terry McLaurin, and they could form part of the foundation for a rebuilding franchise.
And did we mention that unemployed former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer spent some time in luxury box of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder last week? That’s connecting a lot of dots. But the top of the 2020 draft is starting to come into focus, even if many Redskins-related questions remain unanswered.
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