Bengals pick RB Joe Mixon in NFL Draft Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on CBS Sports and was written by Jamey Eisenberg
It was fairly obvious that the Cincinnati Bengals were coming out of the NFL Draft with a running back. And that guy was Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon in the second round Friday night at No. 48 overall.
Mixon was considered a first-round talent, but his off-field issues after he was caught on tape hitting a woman, which resulted in him being suspended for the 2014 season, scared teams off and lowered his stock. Cincinnati took a chance on Mixon, and he should be the best running back for the Bengals this year.
Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard remain on the roster for now, but Hill has struggled for the past two seasons, while Bernard is coming off last year’s torn ACL. It shouldn’t be hard for Mixon to step in as the starter, and he has the chance to be a No. 2 Fantasy running back in all leagues coming into the season.
Mixon played great once coming back to the Oklahoma Sooners in 2015, combining for 300 carries for 2,027 yards (6.8-yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns and 65 catches for 894 yards and nine touchdowns over that span. In 2016, Mixon had 187 carries for 1,274 yards (6.8-yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns and 37 catches for 538 yards and five touchdowns.
He’s got good size at 6-foot-1, 228 pounds and speed (4.43 in the 40-yard dash), and he could be better than Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook, who were all drafted ahead of him. The question for Mixon will be his workload compared to Hill and Bernard in Cincinnati, and he should be No. 1 on the depth chart.
The Bengals were clearly fed up with Hill, who was great as a rookie in 2014 with 222 carries for 1,124 yards (5.1-yards per carry) and nine touchdowns and 27 catches for 214 yards, but has struggled the past two seasons. He’s scored 21 total touchdowns over that span, but he’s rushed for an average of 222 carries for 817 yards (3.6-yards per carry) in 2015 and 2016.
Bernard tore his ACL in Week 11 last season, but he’s expected to be ready for training camp. He should work well with Mixon as a change-of-pace rusher and working on passing downs, but he’ll be a backup option at best, along with Hill.
The offensive line is a concern for the Bengals with left tackle Andrew Whitworth (Rams) and right guard Kevin Zeitler (Browns) leaving as free agents, and that could impact Mixon. But his talent should be able to overcome that in a way Hill or Bernard could not.
Mixon should be drafted in Round 4 or 5 in the majority of seasonal leagues, and he’s a first-round pick in rookie-only drafts. You’ll likely see Mixon drafted as high as No. 3 overall in those formats behind Fournette and McCaffery.
Hill will be drafted with a mid- to late-round pick if he remains with the Bengals, and Bernard is just a late-round flier coming off his injury in 2016, with his value higher in PPR. Mixon’s addition just crushes the Fantasy value for Hill and Bernard.
We knew the Bengals were going to draft a running back, but we didn’t expect it to be Mixon. But he’s in Cincinnati now, and Fantasy owners should plan to target him in all leagues.
Cincinnati made it clear that an upgrade at running back was needed, and the Bengals took controversial running back Joe Mixon in the second round.