With the forty-eighth pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Bengals selected Joe Mixon out of Oklahoma. Playing at Oklahoma has helped develop Mixon into one of the best running backs of the draft class. However, it is not his play, but his character comes into question. At the end of the day, Bengals fans are wondering: will the risk of drafting Mixon pay off?
In 2014, Mixon was charged with assaulting a woman, breaking her jaw, while playing for the Oklahoma Sooners. Mixon pleaded guilty in court, but he did not admit guilt to the offense. It was this simple clause that resulted in Mixon staying out of prison and not creating a criminal record. However, he still had to serve one hundred hours of community service, pay a $1,200 fine and attend counseling. As long as he fulfilled the requirements of his probation, he would not face jail time.
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His second incident with the parking attendant may also be a contributing factor as to why many teams passed on the running back. In November 2016, Mixon received a parking citation. Angry at the citation, Mixon retaliated at the attendant, including driving his car at the officer to intimidate him. A simple parking ticket provoked Mixon to react in such an aggressive manner that it makes sense why he is a high-risk high reward. The NFL does not take these types of altercations lightly. Losing a player of his caliber for four games could be the difference of the Bengals being in the playoffs or on the outside looking in.
Assuming that these incidences stay isolated and his behavior improves, the Bengals have signed an above average running back. In his two years on the field at Oklahoma, the impressive back was able to put up very respectable numbers including over thousand yards rushing and averaging almost seven yards a carry. Combine that with his involvement in the passing game garnering fourteen and a half yards on average, it makes sense that the Bengals would draft him. However, the Bengals will have to work with Mixon to improve his feet and field vision. Help improve these aspects of his game, and his production will continue to improve at the next level.
Mixon is a great running back and has the potential to be the starting back at the beginning, if not mid-way through the season. The Bengals need a running back that can take control of games when asked to and Mixon is that athlete. The Bengals’ offense appears poised to be able to run up the score against some of the top teams they will face this season. Expect Mixon to help contribute to a Bengals playoff birth this season.