Controversial as it may have been to select Joe Mixon in the NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals have high hopes for the former Oklahoma running back, expecting him to take over the #1 spot on the depth chart pretty soon.
Mixon was a very good player in Norman for the Sooner over two seasons of play, but many fans remember him for his 2014 incident when he punched a woman named Amelia Molitor. She did hit him first, but his hit causing broken bones in her face which required hospitalization and surgery. He was suspended for one year, the case was settled, and he met with her and apologized to her on April 21, 2017, days before the draft.
The Bengals know this may be an upsetting thing to parts of the fanbase, so owner Mike Brown wrote a letter to the team’s fans, praising Mixon’s character, his work on and off the field since the 2014 incident, and how important he can be to the team in the very near future.
And the Bengals certainly expect him to be. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard seemed not too long ago like one of the best 1-2 backfield punches in the NFL. But Hill averaged just 3.8 yards per carry last season while rushing for 839 yards and 9 touchdowns. Bernard, who has become more of a passing threat for quite some time, finished the season with only 3 touchdowns overall and averaged 3.7 yards per carry. The Bengals missing the playoffs may have been a signal that they need some fresh legs to help Andy Dalton with some running yards.
Mixon can certainly put up some nice numbers, and was taken 48th overall in the draft. He fell to the second round because of the Molitor incident, and would have been a much earlier pick if he had a clean slate off the field. The 20-year old out of Oakley in California rushed for 1274 yards last season and showed impressive ability as a pass-catcher too, finishing with a total of 1812 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. If the Bengals can tap into that talent right away, 2017 will look a lot better than the disappointing previous season.