No one is really thinking about the 2024 NFL Draft but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of mock drafts floating around out there. In a recent one from Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network, the Cincinnati Bengals make a shocking decision to spend their first-round pick on a running back.
Cummings had the Bengals selecting Clemson running back Will Shipley with the 29th overall pick.
"Year in and year out, the Bengals’ offense is one of the most electric units in the NFL. The addition of Will Shipley to potentially replace Joe Mixon would only carry on that cycle. At 5’11”, 205 pounds, Shipley doesn’t have Mixon’s mass, but he’s a serpent inside the tackles with his outrageous hip flexibility, burst, vision, and instincts in close quarters."- Ian Cummings
Despite speculation, Joe Mixon isn't going anywhere this season but this is probably his final year in Cincinnati. According to Spotrac, Mixon is set to be a $13 million cap hit in 2024 and would save the team roughly $10 million by parting ways with him.
Bengals select Will Shipley in mock draft
Shipley still has another season to go at Clemson but he's coming off a 2022 season where he rushed for 1,182 yards and 15 touchdowns while tallying 242 receiving yards. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 6.4 yards per catch.
The Bengals are entering the 2023 season with the expectation of having Mixon as the starter and rookie fifth-rounder Chase Brown as the backup. The only way they'd spend a first-round pick on a running back is if Brown was underwhelming as a rookie. Otherwise, there are more important needs for them to hit on in the first round of the draft.
Shipley is a good player but as we've learned in recent years, it's not worth taking a running back in the first round. The position still has valuable talent later on in the draft and that's what the Bengals are hoping to capitalize on with their selection of Brown this year.