Before the 2023 NFL Draft got underway, one of the most heavily debated positions on the roster for the Cincinnati Bengals was at running back. Joe Mixon was coming off his worst season, is set to make a lot of money, and has faced a tumultuous offseason.
Katie Blackburn even said when speaking to the media a few weeks ago that Mixon was the starter right now but her words didn't seem like she was convinced that'd be the case when the season got underway. A few weeks later, the Bengals reportedly were going to give Mixon an ultimatum: Take a pay cut or get cut.
Prior to the draft, however, offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said that the Bengals would be searching for a running back who complements Mixon. The team didn't sign a running back in free agency aside from re-signing Trayveon Williams so it felt like the draft would be the time to see what the Bengals really thought of Mixon and if they were serious about keeping him.
How did Bengals draft change RB situation?
The Bengals did not take a running back on the first two days, which surprised some people. Be that as it may, they still found a good option at the position in the fifth round when they selected an Illinois running back named Chase Brown.
The Fighting Illini back dashed for over 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns while also proving himself as a dominant pass-catcher with 240 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He's had some fumble issues and could improve on his blocking but that's going to be the case for a lot of young running backs entering the NFL.
Is Brown good enough to push Mixon for the starting job though? Ben Baby of ESPN said that running back was the Bengals' biggest question mark following the draft.
"Joe Mixon is coming off a lackluster year and is set to count $12.8 million against the salary cap. Third-down back Samaje Perine left in free agency. Cincinnati drafted RB Chase Brown in the fifth round. The Bengals could roll the dice by cutting Mixon and playing Brown and Trayveon Williams, pursue a veteran running back via trade or free agency or rework Mixon's contract."- Ben Baby
We've seen late-round picks come into the league and set the world on fire as early as their rookie years (ie: Isaiah Pacheco of the Chiefs last season) so who's to say that Brown can't be that for Cincinnati?
Zac Taylor did say that Mixon would be the starter but things can change between now and Week 1 of the regular season. Do we believe what Taylor says or think that the team will want to save as much money as possible to extend their key players? Would they trust Chase Brown to be the RB1 in a very important season?
What do you think happens at running back for the Bengals?