5 running backs that may interest Bengals in 2022 NFL Draft

Master Teague III (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Master Teague III (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
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The Cincinnati Bengals invested heavily in the running backs position when they signed Joe Mixon to a monster deal. That means they are unlikely to dip back into the market until at least Day 3 in the 2022 NFL Draft.

This article looks at the current state of the roster at running back and five players who may be of interest to the Bengals fans during draft season.

Running Backs on Roster

  • Joe Mixon
  • Samaje Perine
  • Chris Evans
  • Trayveon Williams

How they fared in 2021

The expectation was that the workload would be heavily on do-it-all lead back Joe Mixon going into the season and that is precisely how it played out. Mixon accounted for 66% of snaps at the position, a figure that would have been more if he hadn’t been used sparingly vs Green Bay due to injury.

Mixon has established himself as one of the premier backs in the league. Not only does he take the focus away from Burrow and the loaded receiving corps, but he can break off long gains, something that hasn’t been easy considering the below-average offensive line he runs behind.

In reserve, Samaje Perine has been the primary backup. The coaching staff has repeatedly shown their belief in Perine, using him on crucial downs, particularly in short-yardage situations. His physicality means opposition defenses don’t get a chance to rest when he spells Mixon.

Finally, Chris Evans was the buzz of the offseason but has seen limited action in 2021. That said, the future looks bright for Evans, who has shown himself to be a well-rounded back. His ability to play as a receiver and lay down some solid blocks means he holds the spot of ‘long-term Mixon replacement’ for now.

What are the contract situations of the currently rostered backs?

Mixon is in the first year of his four-year, $48 million deal. Although there is a final year option, the former Oklahoma back is a lock atop the depth chart for another two years.

Evans is on his rookie deal and is likely to be around for a similar timeframe. The only back with somewhat of a question mark is Perine.

Perine will move into his final year in 2022. However, the Bengals could cut him during the offseason saving themselves $1.8 million. While not strapped for cap space, it will likely be a discussion if they believe a cheaper alternative is available in the draft.

What will the Bengals look for in rookie running backs?

If the Bengals decide to use a draft choice on a running back, you can imagine they would be looking for one of the following:

  • A physical back to help protect Burrow, use on short-yardage plays, and provide a cheaper option than Samaje Perine.
  • Someone with kick return ability. The Bengals have failed to nail down a reliable returner in 2021. Darius Phillips looks to have lost the job, and the bottom of the roster receivers who have filled in are not sure to return.
  • Special teams experience would be a priority for either option considering Perine has played on 50% of special team snaps and Evans on 25%.

Here are five running backs that could fit the bill.