Bengals: Running back depth chart after 2021 NFL Draft

Leigh Oleszczak
Samaje Perine #34 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Samaje Perine #34 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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The Bengals know who their starting running back is going to be in 2021 but who will sit behind Joe Mixon on the depth chart this year? There are several options for Cincinnati to look at this summer.

Mixon has earned his right to start as the Bengals’ main running back and according to Jay Morrison of The Athletic (must have a subscription to access the entire article), offensive coordinator Brian Callahan wants Mixon to have a career year and doesn’t plan to take Mixon off the field much.

Mixon started just six games last year and missed the rest of the season due to injury. In the two seasons prior to that, he had rushed for over 1,100 yards each year and had at least five rushing touchdowns.

Here are the other names at running back for the Bengals (in alphabetical order):

The Bengals took Evans in the sixth round of this year’s draft. The Michigan Wolverine rushed for 1,795 yards and 15 touchdowns during his four years in Ann Arbor. He also hauled in 49 receptions for 479 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He’s probably the favorite to land the No. 3 spot for Cincinnati this year.

Patrick played college football at Florida State where he rushed for 1,790 yards and 17 touchdowns through four years. He also had 356 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown as well. Patrick was initially drafted by the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL but was left without a job when the league was forced to shut down. He joined the Bengals shortly after.

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Bengals fans are already familiar with Perine, as he spent last season in Cincinnati. Perine previously played for Washington and Miami before he landed with the Bengals. He appeared in all 16 games last year and rushed for 301 yards and three touchdowns and also had 66 receiving yards throughout the course of the season. He’s the likely backup for Mixon in 2021.

Pooka Williams is the most intriguing UDFA that the Bengals brought in. Williams was the lone bright spot on a Kansas Jayhawks offense that didn’t have much to write home about. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 2018 and 2019 and is definitely someone to watch for to make the Bengals’ roster this year.

Trayveon Williams has spent the last two seasons in Cincinnati and rushed for 157 yards during that time (all of which came last year). He’ll have some competition this year so the previous two years of experience with the Bengals won’t be enough to keep Williams on the roster. He’ll have to earn it.

Mixon and Perine are locks to make the team and it’s hard to see the Bengals cutting Evans considering they spent a draft pick on him. That means there’s likely one practice squad spot open for the rest of these guys to fight for. With the number of injuries that can happen at the running back position, getting on the practice squad ensures that you’re the next guy called up should someone ahead of you get injured.

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I’d like to see Pooka Williams get some playing time this year, as he really is a tough runner and a big-time playmaker. The running back position will certainly be a fun camp battle to watch unfold this summer.

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