Bengals take early risks in draft

The Cincinnati Bengals have built their team around a lot of very successful draft picks including quarterback Andy Dalton and star wide receiver AJ Green who heard their names called early during the 2011 NFL Draft.

In recent years, the Bengals have spent most of their early draft picks investing in young defensive backs or adding depth on the offensive line. However, this year, the Bengals surprised a lot of football fans and used their first two draft selections adding some young, talented skill players.

At the ninth overall pick in the draft, the Bengals chose John Ross, an explosive wide receiver out of Washington, and then followed that up with choosing Joe Mixon, a versatile running back from Oklahoma.

Ross making guys miss

Although there is no doubt that both these players are extremely talented, they come with something that has scared Bengals fans: a lot of risk.

First, there is John Ross, the 5’-11” receiver who is most known for what he did at the NFL Combine and not on the field while at Washington. As most have heard, Ross broke the record for the forty-yard dash with a time of 4.22 seconds as well as finished as the third best wide receiver in the 2017 draft class with a broad jump of 11’-1”.

Other than at the combine, Ross impressed scouts while in college by putting up some impressive stats of 81 catches for 1,150 yard and 17 touchdowns (second in the country) during his final year at Washington. During that outstanding season, Ross was also named as a second-team All American and first-team All-Pac-12 wide receiver.

Although Ross has proven at the combine and while playing for Washington that he is worth a first round pick, his injury history has people wondering if Ross will be able to stay healthy enough to have a successful career in the NFL. Since 2014, Ross has reportedly had a surgery to repair two meniscus tears, surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, and has experienced a few shoulder injuries.

Mike Mayock, an analyst for the NFL Network, talked about Ross and said, “Let’s give this kid his due. Quick and explosive. Questions about his medical. He’s got shoulder injuries and knee injuries.”

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Even with the injury risk, Lance Zierlein of believes that Ross should be a great addition to the Bengals current wide receiver core and has compared him to deep-threat DeSean Jackson. The last wide receiver to be draft by the Bengals in the first round was AJ Green in 2011 so Ross comes with a lot of high expectations.

Mixon breaking away

Next is Joe Mixon, a player who has also been known for what he has done off the field instead of what he has done on the field. In his sophomore season at Oklahoma, Mixon was very impressive turning 224 plays from scrimmage into 1,812 yards (8.1 yards per play) and found the end zone 15 times. Mixon also earned first-team All-Big 12 honors during this season before entering the NFL draft.

Although Mixon’s talent would’ve gotten him an invitation to the NFL combine, Mixon was instead sitting at home while others showed their skills due to an altercation that involved Mixon in 2014.

In 2014, Mixon was arrested and suspended for an entire season after he punched a female Oklahoma student in retaliation from her shoving him. This past year, the video of these incident was released and showed the severity of the scuffle that forced Mixon to publicly apologize and hurt his draft stock.

As everyone knows, the Cincinnati Bengals are the team you want to be drafted by if you have a few off field issue because they are always willing to give players a second chance.

Mayock commented on Mixon, “Cincinnati’s had a history of Marvin Lewis and his guys opening their arms up and saying we can handle those kind of guys, we have the right infrastructure. Personally, if I’m a GM, he’s not on my board. As soon as I see that video, he’s off. But if you want to hear about the football player, I’ll tell you what he is. The football player is a top-15 pick in any draft. … What I’m trying to say is he’s pretty darn special as a football player.”

If you look at Mixon on the field, every professional football team would love to have him. Mixon is a fantastic running back that could make an immediate impact for the Bengals by beating out Jermey Hill, who had a difficult time running the ball last season, and Giovanni Bernard, who is coming off a torn ACL in his knee.

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Lance Zierlein of compared Mixon to the Steelers’ LeVeon Bell who has solidified himself as one of the best running back in the league despite being plagued with injuries by averaging 105.7 yards per game last season.

Obviously, the NFL Draft is a good time to take a chance on some young, talented players and the Bengals definitely did just that. Hopefully both Ross and Mixon can make a big impact on the Bengals during this season and multiple seasons in the future.