With one of the deepest draft classes in years, the Bengals are poised to find their next running back of the future. The problem is picking just one.
With Giovani Bernard coming off an injury, Jeremy Hill under performing and Rex Burkhead on his way to free agency there are serious questions in the Bengals’ backfield. The good news is, there are plenty of answers in this year’s draft. The running back position has been devalued in recent years with the emergence of the passing game. However, you cannot underestimate the importance of a strong running game, especially in the AFC North. With that said, here are some guys that can come in and make an impact that will elevate the Bengals offense.
There is a debate on who is this year’s number one rusher between Leonard Fournette of LSU and Dalvin Cook of Florida St. With Fournette you get a big, strong, athletic stud. The former Tiger has a lethal stiff-arm and can hit like a linebacker. I believe he is underrated as a receiver and does an excellent job picking up the blitz.
When you watch Cook you see a home run hitter who is electric with the ball in his hands. He is a threat to score every time he touches the pigskin. He has excellent vision as well as a tremendous burst through the hole. The former Seminole can run routes like a receiver and can break arm tackles with ease simply from the momentum he runs with. Both prospects are possibilities with the No. 9 pick.
A Deep Class
Christian McCaffrey will likely go late first round but could possibly slide to the Bengals in the second round. The Stanford product is another home run hitter that can run routes, with the ability to even play slot receiver. McCaffrey also brings value as a kick returner. Other guys to watch for on day 2 include Alvin Kamara of Tennessee, D’Onta Foreman of Texas, Kareem Hunt of Toledo and possibly Joe Mixon of Oklahoma.
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Kamara has good speed and also has good receiving skills. Foreman is a bruising type of runner who weighs in around 250 pounds. The former Longhorn rushed for over 2,000 yards last season which is sure to garner a lot of attention from scouts this offseason. Hunt was impressive during Senior Bowl week, showing good vision and burst through the hole. He has good speed and size and will be a steal in this draft.
Remember The Names
Mixon is the wild card in this class. Although the former Sooner is considered by some as the draft’s most talented runner, Joe also comes with serious red flags from a well documented indecent that occurred during his time in Norman. Mixon could go anywhere from the second round to not being drafted at all.
By day three of the draft, there will be plenty of other names to remember. Jamaal Williams, Marlon Mack, Brian Hill, Wayne Gallman, and Jeremy McNichols are all possibilities. They are all talented guys who have the size and ability to be featured backs. Elijah McGuire of Louisiana-Lafayette, DeVeon Smith of Michigan, and James Conner of Pittsburgh are also dark horses the Bengals could consider.
This class is so deep that the Bengals could find their guy anywhere in this draft. Will they pull the trigger in the first round? Can they find value in the mid-to-late rounds? Who would you like to see as the Bengals featured back in 2017?