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Bengals RB Joe Mixon is about to breakout

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Mixon is entering the season as the Bengals’ lead back, and that should pay huge dividends for the team.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Minicamp Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Mixon is entering his second season after the Bengals drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft.

Last season was a bit awkward in the backfield for running backs, as it was apparent to everyone except possibly Jeremy Hill that Mixon was the guy. Yet Hill still started every single game despite getting far less snaps than Mixon.

This changed in Week 9 when Hill was put on injured reserve. This allowed the Bengals to start Mixon without ruffling any feathers, and we saw the future is bright at that position for years to come.

How bright could it be though?

Joe Mixon

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 228 pounds

College: Oklahoma

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Experience: First-Year Player

Cap status

Mixon is in the second year of his rookie deal. He is set to make $712,735 while carrying a cap hit of about $1.2 million next season, according to Spotrac. Mixon is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2020 season.

Background

Mixon was viewed as one of the most talented running back prospects coming out in 2017, but Mixon had one of the biggest red flags of any player to enter the draft. He had punched a woman in the face in 2014. The surveillance video of the attack went viral, and Mixon sat out a full season at Oklahoma afterward.

Mixon wracked up over 1,800 yards from scrimmage during his sophomore season while scoring 15 total touchdowns. He was a threat running and catching the passes, which is what made Mixon such an attractive prospect to the Bengals once they determined is Mixon would still be a risk off the field or not.

Again. Mixon’s rookie season was awkward. The idea that he was forced to sit behind Hill, who never received double-digit carries during a game in 2017, was a bit silly. The team would even throw Hill out there if Mixon was on a roll.

Of course, many will point to Mixon’s season totals as a reason to doubt the running back. He only rushed for 626 yards (3.5 yards per carry) last year. However, context is everything. Starting with the Jacksonville game, Mixon’s first start, he only averaged under four yards per carry twice in his final seven games (he missed two games due to a concussion). It is obvious that once Mixon became the guy things changed.

It is also hard to ignore the fact that the offensive line has undergone a drastic change over the offseason. The Bengals added Cordy Glenn at left tackle and rookie Billy Price at center. The team also replaced Paul Alexander with Frank Pollack as the offensive line coach, which seems to have changed the culture along the line to be more aggressive.

It all seems to be coming together for a big 2018 season for Mixon.

Roster odds

Mixon is going to make the roster. Despite having Giovani Bernard and Mark Walton behind him on the depth chart his place as the starting running back in 2018 is safe. It is all just a matter of staying healthy.

Roster odds: 100 percent