Did the Bengals Make a Mistake Drafting Mixon?
It’s been almost a month since the NFL Draft and a lot of picks still have people talking. The Cincinnati Bengals made what many people consider to be a strange decision when they selected Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in the second round.
On the surface, Mixon seems like a fine pick. Last season, he rushed for 1274 yards and 10 touchdowns, with an additional 538 yards and 5 touchdowns receiving. These numbers back up what many scouts have been saying about him, that he is a dangerous all-purpose back in the mold of Le’Veon Bell or Jamaal Charles. This could very well be true, but Mixon also comes with some notable baggage.
In an incident in 2014, Mixon punched a woman, breaking several bones in her face. Mixon has said that racial slurs were directed at him. The woman hit him first and he said that he was “shocked’’ at how hard she hit him. Obviously, this is no excuse, but the University thought suspending Mixon for the entire 2014 season was a sufficient punishment. The public didn’t become aware of the incident until a video of it surfaced in December 2016. Mixon still played in the Sugar Bowl that following January.
Going into the Draft, there were questions as to which teams, if any, would be willing to take a chance drafting Mixon with a high round pick. Most everyone believes he is a talented running back with strong NFL potential, but many questioned whether he was worth the risk or the stigma that would come with drafting him.
These questions were answered when the Cincinnati Bengals selected Mixon with the 48th pick in the Draft. This pick made both no sense, and perfect sense at the same time. On one hand, the Bengals already have two pretty good running backs in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. There were also arguably bigger areas of need for them, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
On the other hand, the Bengals also needed to bolster their offense, which took a significant step backward a year ago. Drafting an explosive back like Mixon would be a good way to address this and bring some needed competition to the running back spot. Hill has under-performed the past two seasons, and Bernard has never really been an every-down back.
At the same time, there are probably a lot of people saying, ’Who else but the Bengals would draft Mixon this high?’’, and they have a point. Other than the Baltimore Ravens, there really couldn’t have been a more ironic landing spot for Mixon. The Bengals are no stranger to players demonstrating behavior which the team and the NFL would prefer not to be associated with –Adam Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict being recent examples.
Mixon has formally apologized for the incident and hasn’t had any issues since. Whether or not the Bengals made the right decision in making him a 2nd round pick probably won’t be clear until a couple of years down the road. If Mixon stays out of trouble, he could become a very effective player in this league for a long time.