The Cincinnati Bengals went offense-heavy in the 2017 NFL Draft. After getting receiver John Ross in round 1, they followed that up with Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon with the 48th pick in Round 2.
Last season with the Sooners, Mixon recorded 1,274 rushing yards, 6.8 yards per carry and 10 rushing touchdowns. He also notched 538 receiving yards at 14.5 yards per catch and five touchdown grab on 37 grabs.
With 194 all-purpose yards per game, Mixon ranked among the top-five runners in the country. In 2015, Mixon ran for 753 yards on 113 carries (6.7 avg.) and seven scores, while chipping in 28 catches for 356 yards (12.7 avg.) and four scores.
But in 2014, Mixon reached an Alford plea on a misdemeanor assault charge after punching a woman in the face. He received a one-year deferred sentence, 100 hours of community service, and mandated behavioral counseling. Mixon was also suspended by Oklahoma for the 2014 season.
While his character issues are a major concern, the Bengals think he’s moved past them. If so, Mixon instantly becomes the most complete back on the Bengals’ roster, and he’ll likely take Jeremy Hill’s starting spot at some point in 2017.
ESPN’s Todd McShay had Mixon ranked 44th overall coming into the draft, while Mel Kiper ranked him 47th. The final Pro Football Focus draft board had Mixon ranked 34th.
CBS Sports had him ranked 18th. The Cold Omaha Consensus Big Board, which factors in every major draft ranking, had Ross ranked as the 48th-best prospect in this draft.
If you take away the ranking by CBS, you’ll see this was a good value pick. But the reason Mixon was ranked in the forties by many of these outlets, is because the rankings are valuing Mixon lower due to his character concerns, not his talent. Mixon likely would have been a top 10 pick if not for the 2014 incident.
The Bengals got a potential star in Mixon so long as he stays on the straight and narrow. There’s a risk in taking a player like Mixon, who has first-round talent but character concerns that made him undraftable to some teams. The Bengals hope this gamble pays off in a big way as early as this season.