The Bengals re-united college football's record-breaking quarterback-receiver combination during Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft with the hope that LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase can help Joe Burrow repeat history with a Super Bowl championship.
In what appeared to be a close call with Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell at the No. 5 spot, the Bengals opted for Chase's vertical threat and a past with Burrow that encompasses the magical 2019 season they led the unbeaten Tigers to a national championship.
Both Chase and Sewell opted out of the 2020 season, but that didn't prevent the Bengals from ranking them high up their board.
While Burrow won the Heisman Trophy with an NCAA-record 60 touchdown passes, Chase caught an SEC-record 20 of them to go with another league-best 1,780 yards.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in the 54 years of the common draft that an NFL team has selected a quarterback-receiver combo from the same school in the top five during consecutive drafts.
The 6-0, 200-pound Chase, 21, the first Bengal born in this century, now lines up across from last year's first pick in the second round in wide receiver Tee Higgins to take throws from last year's overall No. 1 pick as head coach Zac Taylor adds another weapon to his playbook for the 2020s.
But it's a pick that can have immediate impact in 2021 given Chase's familiarity with Burrow and the LSU wrinkles the offense incorporated in the wake of last year's draft.
"It's not a negative, that's for sure," Taylor said earlier this week of Chase's history with Burrow. "You get a chance to see at LSU in particular, they've had a lot of players come out the last two years. Some of them didn't play this year, some of them did. You get a chance to see an offense that is very similar to a lot of pro systems so there's not a lot of guess work in terms of how they're going to translate."
Burrow has said he hasn't lobbied for Chase or any of the top prospects and he didn't watch the March 31 campus workout at Baton Rouge, where Chase ripped off a 4.38-second 40-yard dash to go with a massive 41-inch vertical leap.
But Burrow told former Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth on his podcast last week that Chase has his kind of work ethic.
"I didn't watch the pro day. I know what Ja'Marr can do. I didn't have to watch the pro day," Burrow said. "He's a lot like me. He was in there every Saturday with me throwing, getting up early. He's that kind of guy. He's a great person, great dude, great player. He and I got along very (well)."
As the Bengals move on from A.J. Green, the seven-time Pro Bowler who remains the Bengals' highest drafted receiver at No. 4 ten years ago, and John Ross, the No. 9 pick four years ago, they're looking for Chase to supply the deep threat that was missing last year.
Pro Football Focus graded Burrow with an off-the-charts 98.2 when he targeted Chase on throws 20 yards or longer two years ago. The web site had Burrow for just 61.5 on those 20-yard throws in his rookie year.
"Certain receivers just have a way of getting separation at the top of the route," Burrow told Collinsworth. "Whether they're accelerating past them or they get a little push, whatever it is, he's got that receiver ability to just run past people. He ran a 4.38 I think it was, but I didn't expect it. Nobody is catching him, though. He just has a great way of getting open. He has a great feel for zone, great feel for man. He's a complete player."