NFL Draft 2017: Bengals May Need To Replace Rex Burkhead

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Jan 1, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead (33) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead (33) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Rex Burkhead proved how much the Bengals need his passionate running style. But, if he decides to move on, who can replace him?

With the Super Bowl behind and the NFL Draft getting closer, it’s time to think about some possibilities. Rex Burkhead showed the Bengals and football fans around the globe what he was capable of doing. Unfortunately, Burkhead’s talent was discovered on the eve of his journey into free agency. Cincinnati had four years to find out what Burkhead could do. Instead, he walked the sidelines and wasted away until players got injured. Now, it may be time to replace him.

After a dazzling game against the Baltimore Ravens, Burkhead’s stock rose like fresh-baked bread. He shredded the Ravens for 119 yards on 27 carries. His accomplishment came against a vaunted Baltimore defense that ended the season ranked fifth against the run, per The Football Database.

Burkhead has mentioned he likes Cincinnati. Translation: he wants a contract that proves his abilities are appreciated. Mike Brown has let other puzzle pieces walk. Reggie Nelson, Mohamed Sanu, and Marvin Jones all contributed to the success of their new teams. Sanu and the Falcons made a lasting impression on A.J. Green. He’s onboard with navigating the free agent waters

If the Bengals allow Burkhead to explore his future elsewhere, who could replace him? Tra Carson has yet to prove his mettle. He may have the ability to step into Rex’s shoes and keep the running game fired up. But, there’s a huge chance he can’t. A player like Burkhead shows up only once so many years.

The Bengals have the No. 9 pick. There are so many needs to fill. If Leonard Fournette is still around after the fourth pick, he’s what the Bengals are looking for. But, any war room with good sense will look at ways to use his skill set and snatch him up.

Who Fits The Mold?

If Fournette and Dalvin Cook are gone by the time the Bengals get a chance to sneeze, get ready for the obvious answer. The fact that no one is really thinking about it will make it a priority for the Bengals war room. Joe Mixon could be wearing Orange and Black stripes in 2017. He won’t be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. That alone will make most teams shy away from him.

Don’t laugh. There was a time when Vontaze Burfict was an improbable possibility. Suddenly, he’s the french bread that holds Cincinnati’s pizza toppings. Mixon is another runner with the same running style as Burkhead. He’s a stud in every sense of the word. Ultimately, he has everything the Bengals need from a running back. He’s explosive, catches the ball like a receiver and bowls people over. If Mixon can’t run through defenders, he just jumps over them.

Next: Super Bowl LII Blueprint

Mixon’s past has been checkered with an incident that will never fade. But, Marvin Lewis and Co. have shown their willingness to work with off-field issues and troubled players. Not only does Mixon run like Burkhead, he has some similarities to Corey Dillon. Thinking about that kind of ability in the backfield makes sense. Jeremy Hill is struggling to find himself and Giovani Bernard is recovering from a torn ACL. The Bengals need a running back with attitude. Oklahoma’s Mixon may be the one.

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