3 positions Bengals could take in first round of 2024 NFL Draft (and 2 to avoid)

  • Focus on: OT, WR, DL
  • Avoid: IOL, RB

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Avoid: Running Back

A lot of NFL teams have seemed to make it an unwritten rule of theirs to avoid drafting running backs in the first round. This is because the passing game has far exceeded the rushing attack in terms of importance in the modern NFL.

Another reason is the fact that considering they take so many hits, the impact of a great running back is often short-lived as the body becomes worn down and injury-prone. You're likely not going to see many long-time backs with sustained peaks like Derrick Henry has in the future.

So, why draft one in the first round? They have to be an outstanding prospect (ex. Saquon Barkley, Bijan Robinson) to justify it, and in that case, they are usually gone within the first 10 picks. Besides, it feels like there is a surplus of good running backs in the league. Maybe not elite guys, but serviceable backs who will keep your running game afloat.

If the Bengals do want to go all out, replace Mixon, and completely revamp the run game, I'd rather them try to get someone on a relatively cheap deal in free agency or take one on Day 2 or Day 3, where there is less of a risk and it isn't as big of a deal as missing on a first-round pick. Chances are, they will find someone to develop on the backend of the draft, like they are doing with Chase Brown, who has shown plenty of flashes in the past two games.

Speaking of which, I like the one-two punch the Bengals have with Mixon and the rookie out of Illinois. Yes, it is a small sample size of only two games, but the running game has looked much better in the past two weeks with those two sharing reps than it has all year with Mixon mostly running the show while Trayveon Williams occasionally got a carry here and there.

Chase Brown compliments Mixon perfectly. He's quick, decisive, and makes very fast cuts for huge chunks of yardage, while Mixon is more of a power back who turns a loss of yards into two or three, which is why he's been so important the past couple of weeks, scoring three touchdowns in the last two games.

I would like to see how the running game does as the season winds down if it stays productive or falls off a cliff. If it's the former, the front office should stick with the one-two punch of Mixon and Brown for next season.