The Cincinnati Bengals are certainly looking to add a running back via the NFL Draft. There have been rumblings of them meeting with several throughout the process after the team failed to retain Samaje Perine who left via free agency.
A name coming up now is East Carolina running back Keaton Mitchell.
According to Pro Football Network’s Justin Melo, Mitchell recently met with the Bengals.
.@ECUPiratesFB RB Keaton Mitchell ran a blazing 4.37 40 and leaped a 10-ft-6 broad.— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) April 7, 2023
Mitchell's stock is on the rise. Mitchell recently met w. Broncos, Giants, Packers, Bengals, Seahawks, Lions. Falcons Local Day 4/14.@_KeatonMitchell x @TheDraftNetworkhttps://t.co/Limig6Pil0
Mitchell certainly has the speed and athleticism the NFL covets in running backs. He showed off his blazing speed, and now it seems teams are taking an interest. He could fit quite nicely in an offense like Cincinnati’s where the defense is more concerned with stopping wide receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase.
A super productive FBS back, Mitchell compiled over 2,900 yards from scrimmage with 29 total touchdowns. He made a habit of just running by defenders who simply weren’t ready for him to hit that gear that few players get to reach. Not only can he hit that speed, his acceleration to get to that speed is incredible.
It isn’t all good for Mitchell, though. There is a reason you haven’t seen him going in a noteworthy round in most mock drafts. He measures out at 5’8” and 179 pounds, which is concerning for an NFL running back. He isn’t a guy who is going to get through arm tackles or fall forward on contact at the next level. What may be worse is his hands are very inconsistent as he’s struggled with drops. So even in an ideal Darren Sproles-like role, he probably isn’t going to be very reliable.
Despite some saying his stock is rising, it would still be a surprise to see him go any earlier than the sixth round given how talented this running back class is. He would certainly be a great late-round pick who you can hope your coaching staff can get him to the next level and maybe store on the practice squad. He just isn’t the player who would make too much noise as a rookie as anything other than maybe a returner.
That potential is hard to pass up near the end of the draft, however.