The Cincinnati Bengals are used to having a plethora of offensive weapons to work with. Just in the last few years, guys like A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead, and more have made major contributions to the Bengals’ offensive attack. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bengals added a slew of new talent to that list. But, perhaps the player with the most intriguing potential is former University of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.
“I’m so excited, I can hardly stand myself,” Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese said after the Bengals selected Mixon. “This guy can flat go — very, very good football player — strong, explosive, change of direction, feel and instincts, catches the ball. (We) can move him around in different places of the field. (He) interviewed football IQ-wise very well, protections, explained his offense well. I think he has a very, very bright future.”
There isn’t a lot Mixon can’t do as an offensive weapon. That means, if he is playing up to his potential, there are so many new things the Bengals can do with the offense to keep opposing defenses on their toes and opposing offenses off the field.
“With his versatility – the ability to run and catch – I think that’s going to be big,” Andy Dalton told Jay Morrison of mydaytondailynews.com. “One of the things that helps with a guy that is versatile is you’re not tipping anything – you could be running the ball and you could be throwing it.”
Even the man whose job Mixon is likely threatening, Jeremy Hill, seems excited about the Bengals’ new offensive weapon.
“He’s great,” Hill said. “Especially a guy with his size and speed, it’s definitely rare for a guy to have soft hands like that and be able to run around and get separation and catch the ball and do all of those things.”
Luckily, all of those things are part of Mixon’s focus when on the field. Playing from multiple points of attack has always been his forte, and will be exactly how he makes his mark at the NFL level.
“You can’t be one dimensional,” Mixon said. “You see a lot of one dimensional guys in the league. Or in college or in high school. Anybody can run the ball, but (receiving) is what you do to separate yourself.”
Mixon also added to Hill’s comment about having soft hands, as he believes that’s a big part of his success.
“It’s all about soft hands,” he said. “Catch the ball, and you’ll have that comfort and balance with the ball. You have to know hand placement and things like that.”
It’s not hard to see why the Bengals were willing to look beyond Mixon’s controversial past to make him their second pick in the draft. With the potential to be the Bengals’ next great offensive weapon, picking him up as late as pick No. 48 could prove to be a huge steal.
“I can see why they brought him in,” Hill said. “He’s definitely a talented guy. I’m expecting him to come in this year and help us win football games. I don’t think anyone in this locker room expects anything different.”
Winning football games is exactly what Mixon should help the Bengals to do. Virtually everyone within the Bengals organization seems to be absolutely thrilled having him on the roster. Over the years, the Bengals have made some questionable decisions when it comes to giving controversial players second chances, only to see those players squander the chance by falling back on old habits. But, if this particular player can live up to the expectations the Bengals have for him, he could prove worthy of his selection and help the Bengals achieve their goal of finally winning a Super Bowl.
“With his versatility – the ability to run and catch – I think that’s going to be big,” quarterback Andy Dalton said of his new running back. “One of the things that helps with a guy that is versatile is you’re not tipping anything – you could be running the ball and you could be throwing it.”