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Joe Burrow calls his physical traits limited compared to other QB prospects

Joe Burrow completed 76.3 percent of his throws for 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 games last season at LSU. Photo by Alex Butler/UPI
Joe Burrow completed 76.3 percent of his throws for 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 games last season at LSU. Photo by Alex Butler/UPI

March 2 (UPI) -- Former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but the Heisman Trophy winner believes his physical traits are "limited" compared to other quarterback prospects in the class.

"I think it's my mental capacity in the game," Burrow said last week at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "I prepare better than anybody else. My physical traits are limited compared to some of the guys here. Everyone can see it.

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"I have to be smarter. I have to prepare better and I have to know what's happening before it happens so I can play fast."

Burrow chose not to participate in drills at the combine. Those drills included a 40-yard dash, throwing sessions, vertical jump and more. They also gave NFL teams exact times and measurements used to compare players and decide who they want to draft.

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Players could show off their strong arms, speed, quickness and overall athleticism during the exercises -- traits for which Burrow is not known.

The former Tigers star led the nation in touchdown passes, passing yards and completion percentage in 2019-2020, leading LSU to a national championship. He is mostly known for his intangibles, like poise and mobility inside the pocket. Those factors can't be measured on a stopwatch or with a tape measure.

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Other top quarterbacks have impressed and disappointed NFL teams based on drill results. Former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert exemplified that Thursday, when he clocked a 4.68-second 40-yard dash.

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Herbert also showed off his throwing power, making several deep tosses with ease during a passing session. Former Oklahoma star Jalen Hurts also impressed, running a 4.59-second 40-yard dash.

Positive outcomes can impact when players are selected in during the draft and how much money they will receive.

Burrow likened to Brady

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Burrow has drawn NFL comparisons to Tom Brady and Kurt Warner. Brady also entered the league with what were considered limited physical traits and became a sixth round pick in the 2000 draft. Burrow was projected as a late round pick, as well, before his spectacular season at LSU.

Warner famously went from a grocery store shelf stocker to an undrafted free agent, signing with the St. Louis Rams in 1998. He won the NFL MVP award in his first year as a starter before winning two Super Bowls.

Burrow has modeled his game after another quarterback, childhood idol Drew Brees.

Brees was slighted for being too short and then selected in the second round of the 2001 draft. He also was counted out after a major shoulder injury before reviving his career with the New Orleans Saints. Burrow became a fan during that journey.

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Burrow has said he was an avid Brees follower as he moved around the country as a child, living in Iowa, North Dakota and Ohio.

Burrow began his collegiate career as a highly touted prospect at Ohio State. He sat on the bench for three years, unable to get playing time with Buckeyes stars Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Dwayne Haskins on the roster.

Burrow then transferred to LSU and put together one of the greatest college football seasons in history.

Burrow watching Brees turned into Brees watching Burrow along the way. The two talk frequently, with Burrow picking the future Hall of Famer's brain for tips while trying to improve his game.

"I saw him last week and we were just talking ball," Burrow said of Brees. "And you know, I was trying to be all cool, like, 'Yeah, I know what I'm talking about.' But then on the inside, I'm like, 'I'm talking to Drew Brees about football.' So it was really, really cool."

Burrow wears No. 9, the same number as Brees.

"I like that he wears No. 9. I appreciate his story," Brees told reporters in December. "He's a Midwest kid. He goes to Ohio State and it doesn't work out, and makes his way to LSU and he's the Heisman winner. ... You want to root for guys like that who have to travel the tough road and overcome adversity."

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Burrow also studied other great quarterbacks to design his weekly blueprint before games. He tries to prepare exactly like Peyton Manning, Brady and Brees.

"I think it starts in preparation," Burrow said. "I'm really confident in my preparation. I feel like I prepare better than everyone else. That's why I'm so confident, because i feel like I know what's going to be happening on Saturdays before it happens.

"Hopefully, I can carry that to Sundays with the help of veterans and coaches that are there [in the NFL]."

The Cincinnati Bengals have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, which will be April 23 to 25 in Las Vegas.

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