There wasn't much to criticize Joe Burrow for last year as he posted one of the great quarterback performances in college football history. The results speak for themselves and paved the way for him to be selected first overall. Because things need to be analyzed, poked, and prodded for weaknesses, a fair-minded individual could assess the relative lack of zip on his ball. The supposed lack of arm strength could give the Bengals some pause for concern -- though not a measurable amount.
CBS Sports' Danny Kanell made a point that is probably obvious to a lot of smart people but hit my ears in a new way yesterday when he pointed out that it's far preferable to have a quarterback who gets results and checks a lot of boxes to one that can only shock and awe with a howitzer of an arm.
Kanell called the attribute the most overrated aspect of playing quarterback in the NFL. Look at Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. They didn't exactly have the speediest ball. On the other hand, there is a long list of fireballers who can't do the things essential to winning a football game.
In that respect, Patrick Mahomes is the exception, not the rule.
Taking the next step, perhaps it's instructive to approach quarterback assessment in the same way a baseball team would deal with a prospective pitcher. The foremost goal is to get outs. If a guy does that, even if he registers a fastball in the low-90s, he has a bright future and can succeed in the most high-leverage of situations. If he can hit tripe digits but can't command such power, he can't truly be relied on to have the ball.
Burrow doesn't seem to be Greg Maddux ,either. Maybe he's a John Smoltz. That guy got the job done without relying on an Aroldis Chapman-like fastball. Or a Todd Van Poppel one.
It takes a fine-toothed comb to turn up any concerning flaw in the top pick's game. At least recently. Kanell is correct in pointing out the one criticism doesn't have much weight or import to it.