The Cincinnati Bengals have been known for letting young players sit on the bench instead of playing considerable snaps early on in their NFL careers. We’ve seen it with Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, Tyler Eifert and more recently with Cody Core and Christian Westerman. It’s usually injuries or years spent on the bench that allow these players to see the field.
With a promising slate of rookie talent in 2017 and Marvin Lewis’ job on the line, will the Bengals stick to that philosophy this season? Or, will rookies actually get to see the field early on during the upcoming season?
ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters projected the draft pick from every team who will go on to be their team's best rookie, and for the Bengals, the selection was second round pick, running back Joe Mixon.
RB Joe Mixon
The Bengals took a lot of criticism for the selection of Mixon, whose draft status plummeted due to character concerns. However, Mixon will likely get a heavy dose of playing time right away. And he can be used in a variety of ways, whether it's as a traditional running back or as a pass-catcher. He could also be the Bengals' kick returner. While wide receiver John Ross could make an impact, Mixon is poised to get the most playing time as a rookie. -- Katherine Terrell
For Mixon to be the team’s best rookie, he’ll need to be given an opportunity to play and that means time on the field will need to be taken away from Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Mixon projects to be a better player than both Hill and Bernard, but, like everyone else, he’ll need to earn his spot on the depth chart and impress enough to be given snaps early on in the season.
If any rookie is going to be given a shot to play in 2017, Mixon certainly has a good chance. The Bengals’ ground game struggled in 2016 and Bernard is coming off an ACL tear. So, he’ll be given every opportunity to earn a significant role. First round pick John Ross is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and joins a crowded receiver unit. He’ll need to prove Brandon LaFell should be taken off the field so that he can get onto it. The Bengals are typically more conservative with getting defensive players on the field than offensive players, so Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson have an uphill climb to receive playing time. But, they both are excellent pass rushers and the Bengals need more players who are able to get to the quarterback. Jake Elliott is another player who could prove to be highly beneficial to the Bengals. The team had major issues in the kicking department last season and Elliott was selected in Round 5 of the draft to rectify those issues.
Mixon is on a level playing field with the rest of the rookies in needing to earn time on the field, but, projecting him as the team’s top rookie makes a lot of sense. In fact, he’s already in the discussion for Offensive Rookie of the Year, months ahead of the season beginning.
What do you think? Which rookie will come out on top for the Bengals in 2017?
Who will be the Bengals’ best rookie?
This poll is closed