The Cincinnati Bengals made one of the most controversial moves of the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting former Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon in the second round. Although he is, without a doubt, one of the most electrifying and talented players in the draft class, he is also well known for his off-the-field actions. For that reason, there has been plenty of criticism for the Bengals, who have notoriously poor decision makers like Adam Jones taking leadership roles in the locker room.
For some, it is hard to see how the Bengals expect Mixon, even if they genuinely believe he has changed, to stay out of trouble with negative influences around him. But, that’s hardly considering the full picture. The Bengals’ locker room is filled with incredible role models like A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Giovani Bernard, the list goes on and on.
And if you ask Green, not only should the Bengals’ locker room environment not be a negative influence, but it will be a very positive one for the embattled running back.
“I feel like we have a great locker room, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Green told Mo Egger of ESPN 1530. “I think, with Andy and I being the leaders of that offense, we really can help him if he has questions and we can show him the ropes.”
Following the departure of locker room leader Andrew Whitworth to the Los Angeles Rams this offseason, it is going to be on Green and Dalton to lead the offense and help guys like Mixon become great members of the team, both on- and off-the-field.
“They talk about it, but I don’t feel like they have to pound it in us, because we already know what comes with that pick,” Green said of the attention surrounding the Bengals’ selection of Mixon. “There’s a lot of people who are going to be saying it was a bad pick. But, I feel like in that locker room, we’re family and we protect each other.”
That attitude is exactly what you want to hear from a player like Green, who is going to be expected to take on more and more of a leadership role as he gets older. He has never been the most outspoken player, as he has always preferred to speak when asked and lead by example.
Being counted on to step up as a leader in a big way is relatively new territory for Green. Still, Green sees potential in Mixon and isn’t worried about how he will act as a member of the Bengals.
“I think he’s going to be fine. He made a stupid mistake when he was 18 and I think he’s learned from it,” Green said. “He’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life and get better from that. But, I think he’s going to be fine for us.”
The addition of Mixon could prove to be a very positive thing for the Bengals’ offense, when it comes to the on-the-field potential. After looking extremely one-dimensional in 2016, a multi-threat player of Mixon’s talent should open up the field and keep defenses honest. If he can stay out of trouble, there is no doubt he will be an excellent addition to the Bengals’ offensive attack. With that said, it is really encouraging to hear a veteran player like Green is looking out for his new teammate and believes he can help foster a locker room environment that will be nothing but beneficial for the Bengals’ newest running back.