Not even a year ago, many Bengals fans seemed certain that the team would cut Joe Mixon to free up cap space and move on to find a new running back. Instead, Mixon took a pay cut and had a solid year, all things considered, a step up from 2022. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards, got back up to a 4.1 yards per carry average, and got into the end zone nine times through the run game alone and another three through the air. He also improved on his pass-blocking, which is an underrated component to a running back's game and something that was a huge weakness for Mixon heading into this year.
However, the most important part is the fact that the coaching staff has formed a solid 1-2 punch with his power and rookie Chase Brown's speed. This dynamic is worth taking into next season as Mixon and Brown had a few impressive performances together, with their MNF clash against the Jaguars and the following week against the Colts sticking out in particular.
The big worry is what happens if one of them suffers an injury. Trayveon Williams didn't inspire a lot of confidence in his few opportunities, and Chris Evans seems to have been shunned and hidden away by the coaching staff even though he flashed some promise in his rookie season. They need more depth at the position in case Mixon or Brown become injured to keep the run game from faltering completely.
The good thing about acquiring depth is that you don't have to use a bunch of money or a high draft pick to get it. For a veteran option, just go through this list and pick out whoever you like for cheap, though in the case of running backs, I'd say going for a younger, fresh set of legs would bode much better. There are plenty of interesting prospects in the draft past the first round thankfully.
When using a mock draft simulator, I constantly see names such as Blake Corum, Dillon Johnson, MarShawn Lloyd, Emani Bailey, and Blake Watson available in the 4th round or later. There's also Frank Gore Jr. projected to go in the 7th round or potentially be a UDFA, he's had a pretty good run at Southern Miss. I think this will probably be the easiest of the needs to address in this article.