His name has graced banners hanging in Paul Brown Stadium for weeks now, but LSU quarterback Joe Burrow remains the elephant in the room.
Believe it. Burrow, the Ohio native who has lit it up this season, is highly regarded down here. PBS isn't in a vacuum. But there are also first things first. The Bengals are supposed to take the Heisman Trophy winner No. 1 like they did Carson Palmer in 2003. But head coach Zac Taylor said Monday it's just too early since the coaches have yet to scout him, interview him and dissect him like a game plan.
And the players, well, they're aren't hanging banners just yet because, like Joe Mixon says, not their call.
But they're impressed. Mixon watched Burrow tear up his Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday night with seven TD passes.
"I didn't watch the Heisman speech," Mixon said of Burrow's poignant, masterful acceptance. "I've just seen him play last week when he played my Sooners and I thought he did a hell of a job. At the end of the day I didn't watch any other game about him. I've seen what he did when he played against the Sooners and we were down a lot of players, but at the same time what I saw from him he's real. I look forward to seeing him and watching him out there and whatever they plan on doing that's what they're going to do. I don't have any say so in that.
"I'm going to watch the (national) championship. I look forward to seeing Joe Burrow, I look forward to seeing 'Sunshine' from Clemson (Trevor Lawrence) and I think that's going to be a hell of a showdown. It will give people something to watch for sure and I can't wait to see it."
Giovani Bernard, Mixon's back-field mate, politely excused himself from the discussion. He doesn't watch college football. But tight end C.J. Uzomah, who helped Auburn to a national championship game, has a habit of watching the SEC and play-off games.
"He's a Heisman winner. A very good quarterback and a very good player," Uzomah said. "He leads his team well … That's why they are where they are."
Uzomah says he hasn't been thinking about Burrow playing in Cincy. He had planned to root for LSU in the title game for the glory of the SEC, but now he says he may think about it since was mentioned Monday. He does get concerned when he hears the word hype and how the pick could energize everyone in and around the franchise.
"You have to be cautious with that word," Uzomah said. "You don't want too much hype. It's like you make one mistake and, 'Oh No.' A good quarterback is a good quarterback. Leader of the team, making good decisions. Picking up an offense quickly. Just coming in here with some moxie. Being able to be the boys with the boys. Just being an integral cog in what we're trying to build. If that's the route that we go, then that's kind of the most important part."
Wide receiver A.J. Green has been there, done that. In 2011, he was the fourth pick, Andy Dalton was the 35th and he was a big reason Dalton became the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw at least 20 touchdown passes for a team with a winning record. So he'll see what he'll see.
"I watch college football. He's a college player. Everybody can say this is going to be the guy, and then you get to the NFL, there's a whole different game you've got to read," Green said. "You have to re-calibrate yourself and get back into things. I don't care how good you are in college, there's a re-set button when you get to the NFL. But he's a Heisman Trophy winner for a reason."
Taylor isn't talking about Burrow. But when he listed what he's looking for in a college quarterback, maybe he was.
"Leadership. A guy that leads by example," Taylor said. "Somebody that outworks all of this teammates and elevates their level of play. There's no question that there's the accuracy that plays into it, and the timing and anticipation and all those things that come with it. No. 1, you want a guy that will lead by example and show others the way and raise the level of their teammates."
Sounds like Burrow, but as Taylor said, they've got plenty of time to make the call.
As of Monday, 116 days.