Joe Mixon
Despite disappointing seasons in the past, Joe Mixon will finish as an RB1 in 2021. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Joe Mixon has burned us all in the past. His production, or lack thereof, has led to dramatic overreactions from people. However, his disappointing finishes in the past should not be attributed to him but rather the situation Cincinnatti put him in. First and foremost, Joe Mixon is an excellent running back. He possesses top-tier athleticism for the position and has even earned praise from Bill Belichick himself. He is electric in the open field and can make anyone miss, and even if a defender from the secondary manages to catch up to him, they will have a hard time taking down the 228-pound back.

The leading contributor to the slow start to Mixon’s career was Cincinnatti’s overall offense. In recent years it has been the offensive line, but being unable to move the ball and not get into scoring position is what has killed his massive potential. His first three seasons for the Bengals were plagued by Andy Dalton, who averaged a completion percentage of under 60 and threw for double-digit interceptions as well.

2020 was a different story after the Bengals drafted Joe Burrow first overall. He was going to lead the Bengals’ offense to become one of the best in the league with strong passing options in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Even with a below-average offensive line, Mixon started the year hot, totaling 566 yards and four touchdowns before going down with a foot injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. There were many takeaways from 2020 that lead to optimism for Mixon going into next season, primarily that we saw him become more involved in the passing game. Mixon was on pace for 56 receptions last season, way more than his previous career-high of 43. And with Giovani Bernard joining Tampa Bay, there are at least 59 more targets available in this offense.

The Bengals focused on improving the offense this offseason too. Riley Reiff and Jackson Carman are offensive linemen who will slot into immediate starting roles. The addition of Ja’Marr Chase will only make the offense more consistent and open up the running game more for Mixon. A better offense always yields better results for the run game. For all these reasons, there should be no hesitation in drafting Joe Mixon as one of your top running backs on draft day.

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