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It's official! Bengals select Joe Burrow with No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft

'I'm gonna work as hard as I can to bring winning to Cincinnati'
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Posted at 8:25 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 00:41:43-04

Watch the 2020 NFL Draft on WCPO 9 and ABC on Friday at 7 p.m.

CINCINNATI - Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan says Joe Burrow is ready to step in and start as a rookie quarterback this year. He explained why the Bengals are so confident they took the right guy.

"The only guy I've seen who comes close to his total package [as a rookie] would be Andrew Luck," Callahan said after the Bengals, as expected, grabbed the Heisman Trophy winner with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft Thursday night.

Callahan said he's impressed by everything about Burrow - his throwing accuracy, skills, composure, work ethic - but mostly that Burrow showed the Bengals coaches in hours of virtual meetings that he has a superior understanding of the game.

"He comes across like a guy who's been playing NFL football for 10 years," Callahan said, noting that Burrow is "a coach's kid." "The most impressive thing is his understanding. He's far superior to most kids coming out of college."

The Bengals used the most important draft pick in franchise history to select their next franchise quarterback, and Callahan seems sure that Burrow will be up to the task, especially after watching the LSU quarterback carve up Clemson in the national championship game.

"He really came through in the biggest moment on the biggest stage to play his best," Callahan said. "You could see how he raised his teammates around him with his competitiveness, charisma."

In separate news conference with the Cincinnati media, Burrow and head coach Zac Taylor spoke to the hopes of Bengals' fans.

"I'm gonna work as hard as I can to bring winning to Cincinnati and I know the people around me will," Burrow promised.

“We will never pick No. 1 again,” Taylor vowed. "We don't even want to pick in the top 10 ever again."

RELATED: Burrow pick gives Bengals fans excitement, hope for the future.

Luckily for the Bengals, Burrow is used to proving himself under tough circumstances. Now the 23-year-old Ohio native who had to leave Ohio State to get a chance to start, who led LSU to a 15-0 season and the national championship, will be called on to launch the franchise's turnaround from a 2-14 record in its fourth straight losing season.

"Enough talk," Burrow tweeted. "Time to get to work."

Wearing a Bengals baseball cap, Burrow spoke briefly to a network interviewer and said it was "crazy" to be No. 1 after having been rated a low draft choice following his junior year.

"I wasn't very good in my junior year, but I worked really hard to get better," Burrow said from his home.

Later, talking to the Cincinnati media, Burrow called the Draft outcome "a dream come true to finally be picked and to get to play so close to home. I couldn't be more excited about it."

It's probably no coincidence that the Bengals, who hardly ever spend big money to sign other team's free agents, spent $150 million this offseason to add eight key players. They bet their money knowing Burrow would be their ace in the hole.

"I was really excited about it," Burrow said of the free-agent signings. "It shows the direction this team wants to head. It's going to be a winning franchise for a long time and I want to be a part of it."

Per the league’s rookie wage scale, Burrow will earn $36 million guaranteed over four years, including a $24.6 million signing bonus, according to SpoTrac. Rookie salaries are set in advance and descend with draft order.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Bengals owner Mike Brown welcomed Burrow to the team Wednesday and sent No. 9 jerseys to Burrow and his parents. Burrow will be wearing his college number with the Bengals.

Said it meant a lot to the whole Burrow family.

— Caleb Noe (@CalebNoeTV) April 24, 2020

Burrow was asked about his confidence and his work ethic. "The reason I'm so confident is I know the preparation I put in," Burrow said. "There's an old saying, 'There's always somebody out there getting up earlier than you and working harder than you.' I always wanted to be that guy."

Burrow said the number 740 on a state of Ohio outline on his T-shirt represents the area code in southeast Ohio where he lives. He said he wanted to show support for the people there who supported him.

The Bengals will have the first pick in the second round Friday when the draft resumes at 7 p.m. Watch the draft on ABC and WCPO 9.

Although the Bengals were coy throughout the process, never admitting Burrow was their guy, reports say they settled early on the Heisman Trophy winner and record-setting passer as the new face of their franchise and never wavered, rejecting trade offers - even an enticing late push from the Dolphins.

The Dolphins were working hard this week to get the third overall pick from the Lions without giving up their fifth overall pick so they could trade both picks to the Bengals for the No. 1, ProFootballTalk reported Thursday.

Don't bother, the Bengals reportedly said.

“The Bengals never even entertained any options," Schefter said.

RELATED: Joe Burrow's big day starts with tender moments with mom, girlfriend.

Burrow settled down with his parents and brothers to watch the Draft in their home in The Plains, Ohio. Early in the day, Burrow tweeted his apologies for not getting a haircut and asked for understanding.

A videotape shows him reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with his mother, an elementary school principal, as she greeted her students over the Internet at the start of their virtual school day.

Later, he posted a photo of a big order of wings for their small, family watch party.

RELATED: What Joe Burrow brings to the Bengals.

ESPN's Dianna Russini reported that the only reason the Bengals didn't come out early and say Burrow was their man was to give him his big moment -- minimized though it was - in the NFL's first virtual draft.

Taylor was still not admitting the obvious two days before the Draft, but there was no mistaking his meaning when he told Mike Greenberg of ESPN that "we feel very comfortable with Joe Burrow as a prospect."

Taylor said Bengals coaches used up all their allotted time – three hours per week – talking football with Burrow.

"We’ve talked to a lot of guys but certainly formed a really good relationship with Joe and been real impressed with everything we’ve seen from him,” Taylor said. "He’s as advertised – all the things you’ve heard about him."

RELATED: Joe Burrow is pride of Athens County, Ohio.