Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Joe Mixon has reportedly come as advertised, looking like a potential Pro Bowl running back during OTAs and minicamp practices.
Optimism runs high during this time of year for every club, with positive reports always circling about players who are rehabing, or the performances of new acquisitions in the limited viewable scope that comes from OTA and minicamp drills. Still, a recent report from The MMQB’s Albert Breer, says he’s hearing especially exceptional things about the most enigmatic player in Cincinnati’s group of 11 draft picks this year.
1. Bengals running back Joe Mixon hasn’t wasted any time impressing his coaches. His high-end acceleration and size/speed ratio have stood out, as has his work to improve in pass protection, which is often what keeps rookie backs off the field. Asked how he looks, one Cincinnati staffer answered: “Like a beast.”
Aside from the overall skill set Mixon possesses, the Bengals had an under-the-surface need at the running back position this year. After an outstanding rookie campaign in 2014, Jeremy Hill has had various struggles, while Giovani Bernard is rehabbing a torn ACL, which he suffered in Week 11 last season. Rex Burkhead also left for New England in free agency, leaving a great opportunity for Mixon to be added to the group.
Marvin Lewis has already gushed about the new crop of rookies, giving hope that he’ll allow the ones who prove their worth to get significant snaps early on. Additionally, veteran safety George Iloka answered a Twitter question from a fan last month, noting the abilities of this class.
As Mixon continues to wow his coaches, expect more of the focus surrounding the rookie to shift to what he is doing on the football field. Many of the Bengals’ starting spots still seem to be sewn up, but the running back spot provides a bunch of questions this year. If Bernard ends up missing time (while still recovering from his injury) to start 2017, it would not only pave the way for an additional youngster to make the team, but it very well could propel Mixon into the starting role.
But, even if the versatile Bernard is back as the season starts, Mixon might continue to show enough during training camp and the preseason to get the lion’s share of the carries in 2017. The early rumblings seem to warrant a big role from the rookie back.