Joe Burrow Told to 'Pull an Eli Manning' to Avoid Being Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals

Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski has suggested Joe Burrow should follow Eli Manning's example and force his way out of going to Cincinnati in the upcoming NFL draft.

Following a season in which he won the College Football Playoff with LSU and the Heisman Trophy by a landslide—only the 16th player in history to win both in the same year—Burrow is widely expected to be selected by the Bengals with the first overall pick in the NFL draft in April.

For a team as starved of success as the Bengals have been in recent years, the prospect of picking the best quarterback in college football is enormously exciting, even more so given Burrow's connection to Ohio.

A native of Iowa, the 23-year-old went to high school in Ohio and spent two seasons at Ohio State, before transferring to LSU for his final two years of college.

Bartkowski, however, has urged the Heisman Trophy winner against returning to the Buckeye State when he met him and his family at the Davey O'Brien Award event on Sunday night in Fort Worth, Texas.

"They [Burrow and his family] are Ohio guys," Bartkowski said as per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

"I might've offended them by telling them that, [but] if it's the Bengals, I think I'd pull an Eli Manning on that one. I said, 'You've got a chance to do that. That's happened.' [John] Elway kind of set the tone, then the Mannings delved into it after Eli was picked by San Diego."

In 2004, the San Diego Chargers held the first overall pick ahead of the NFL draft and looked poised to use it to draft Manning, only for the quarterback and his father to publicly state he would refuse to play for the organization if drafted.

San Diego eventually selected him with the first overall pick anyway, but only after agreeing to a deal with the New York Giants which would see the latter draft Philip Rivers with the fourth overall pick in the same year.

Rivers was traded to the Chargers along with a 2004 third-round pick, a first-round and a fifth-round pick in the following year's draft in exchange for Manning.

The Bengals have missed the playoffs in the last four consecutive seasons, going a combined 21-42-1, and Bartkowski suggested Cincinnati was not the right environment for Burrow.

"[Cincinnati] is not the best organization," he explained.

"You know, times change; things change. Atlanta wasn't a good organization until Arthur Blank bought the team [in 2002]. It was a terrible organization. They didn't know the right hand from the left to be honest.

"I know what it's like to go to a bottom-feeder team. I'd hate to see that happen to him to be honest. They 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."

On Monday, Burrow acknowledged the speculation surrounding his future, but insisted he was only focused on training as well as he could ahead of the draft.

The former LSU quarterback, however, remained tight-lipped over whether he'd be happy to be drafted by the Bengals.

"They have their process that they have to go through, and so I am blessed to be in the position I'm in," he explained.

"If they select me, they select me. I'm going to do everything in my power to be the best football player I can be."

"It's a long process in the next couple of months," Burrow said. "We have the Combine. We have pro days. There is a long time until the draft. [...] I'm just focused on training right now."

Meanwhile, according to Bleacher Report scout Matt Miller, the Bengals have made their decision and will select Burrow.

Bengals got their guy 👁

— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) February 18, 2020

Cincinnati, however, won't announce it publicly before the draft, just as the Arizona Cardinals did when they drafted Kyler Murray last season.

Last season Burrow became the first player in SEC history to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in the same season, setting a new school and conference record with 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns.

The Tigers quarterback also set school single-season records for passing yards per game, completions and total offense.

Joe Burrow, LSU Tigers
Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers warms up prior to taking on the Clemson Tigers during the College Football Playoff National Championship held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 13 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jamie Schwaberow/Getty