With the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft now in the books, it’s time to focus on the second round. Plenty of very talented players are still available, some of whom it is hard to believe are still on the board. The Bengals picked up former Washington receiver John Ross in the first round and with the No. 41 overall selection, the Bengals will have their pick of some of the most talented players who were passed over in the first round.
According to most draft analysts, former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is the Bengals’ primary target. He seems to be showing up at No. 41 in just about every mock for the Bengals. In fact, that is exactly the direction that Lance Zierlein of NFL.com expects them to go, despite the red flags.
PICK 41 Joe Mixon - RB
School: Oklahoma. The Bengals get a running back who can play all three downs, but will come with baggage.
One of the most undeniably talented running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mixon’s ability to produce under pressure has teams intrigued. His burst, agility, and versatility as an offensive weapon are virtually unmatched in this draft. Unfortunately for Mixon, his draft stock is lower than it would have been due to a 2014 incident for which Mixon has now reached an Alford plea for a misdemeanor assault charge. Video emerged last December showing Mixon punching a woman in the face on July 25, 2014. The Alford plea allows him to maintain his innocence while admitting the prosecution has enough evidence to convict. He received a one-year deferred sentence, 100 hours of community service, and mandated behavioral counseling. He was suspended for the 2014 season. You can read a full timeline of Mixon’s history in Oklahoma here.
There was a time he was considered to potentially drop out of the draft entirely, but that didn’t last long. He’s simply too talented, as explained by Mark Eckel of NJ.com, for a team like the Bengals to not take a chance on him.
41. CINCINNATI BENGALS
JOE MIXON, RB, OKLAHOMA: The Bengals can't pass on the controversial, but dynamic running back who could be a game changer for their offense.
However, not everyone is entirely convinced the Bengals will select Mixon at 41. In some cases, such as Ryan Talbot of newyorkupstate.com, a different controversial running back is in the cards for the Bengals at pick No. 41, also somewhat of a controversial player, but much less so. It’s actually quite surprising he’s made it to Round 2.
41. Cincinnati Bengals: Dalvin Cook, running back, Florida State
Cook made a pre-draft visit to Cincinnati and goes to the Bengals in the second round.
Running back isn’t the only major area of focus in this year’s draft. Offensive guard makes more sense, according to Steve Muench of ESPN, as the Bengals can’t be expected to properly run the ball without some blocking up front.
Dion Dawkins, G, Temple
Cincinnati needs a guard who can push Christian Westerman for the starting spot vacated by free-agent departure Kevin Zeitler. Dawkins has the tools to do just that in Year 1.
That said, despite a few deviations, the Bengals’ draft talk ends up circling around right back to Mixon. We all know the Bengals are interested so, according to Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback, they might as well pull the trigger now.
No. 41 Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma The thinking on Mixon is this: If you’re going to draft him—and absorb the PR blow—you might as well do it sooner rather than later. Cincinnati feels like the right organization.
The Mixon projections just keep coming. The Bengals aren’t going to let character concerns stop them from picking up such a talented prospect, according to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, because it has never been a particular issue for them before.
41. Cincinnati Bengals Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma: Cincinnati has never had a problem with "character" guys before and they'll likely target a running back on Day 2.
If most major organizations and analysts are to be believed, Mixon is a virtual lock for the Bengals at No. 41. Granted, he could be off the board by the time the Bengals pick, as the Packers have an even greater need for running back help than the Bengals. Still, it’s hard to argue against so many analysts claiming he will be the pick. Go ahead, place your pre-order for a Mixon jersey.