Veteran defensive lineman Mike Daniels spent the first seven years of his career watching Aaron Rodgers work. Getting an up-close view of how a future Hall of Famer operates gives Daniels a unique perspective when judging his new quarterback: Joe Burrow.
Daniels, who joined Cincinnati in August, told NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Thursday that he sees a likeness between the rookie QB and his former teammate.
"I do see a lot of similarities with Aaron and Joe," Daniels said without hesitation. "The thing is that Joe is not like a rookie. ... The guy is like a four-year vet already. He has so much growth since my first day there until the Chargers game (Week 1). You see that the guy is comfortable, sets the tone of the offense, and he has that poise that you only see in veteran quarterbacks."
Daniels noted that Burrow takes command of the offense in the same fashion as Rodgers. If the rookie recognizes that a play needs to be adjusted, Burrow won't shy away from making a call.
"He sees something, he's going to make an audible that you wouldn't expect him to make," Daniels said. "Joe's doing a lot of great things. I'm really excited to be there in the beginning of his career because I know he'll be one of the great ones."
The No. 1 overall pick's career has gotten off to a smashing start.
In the three games prior to his Week 9 bye, Burrow averaged 322.7 passing yards per game (second-most in NFL since Week 6). Burrow has 221 completions through his first eight career games, the most by any player since the 1970 merger.
There is plenty to boast about when discussing Burrow, from his live arm, to pinpoint accuracy on the move, to deft pocket movement. But Daniels harped on more than simply Burrow's physical gifts.
"He's a leader," Daniels said of the rookie. "He's a really good player. A really solid dude. He had to go the long way like Aaron. He's a fifth-year senior coming out of college, and he had to transfer. So, he's got that grit. There's no entitlement to him."
Burrow will need every bit of that grit and leadership Sunday against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.
Burrow has been pressured on 30.4 percent of his dropbacks this season, the seventh-highest rate in the NFL, per Next Gen Stats, and has yet to throw a TD when under pressure. The Steelers have pressured the opposing QB on NFL-high 43.5 percent of dropbacks this season, have a 10.7 sack rate -- also tops in the league -- and blitzed at the third-highest rate.
Burrow must get the ball out of his hands quickly Sunday and avoid big sacks and turnovers if the Bengals are to pull off the upset against a division rival. The rookie has played extraordinarily well in his young career. Knocking off an undefeated Steelers team would provide him with a signature rookie win.