Three 2023 NFL Draft Running Backs Targets for the Cincinnati Bengals

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Three 2023 NFL Draft Running Backs Targets for the Cincinnati Bengals


Three 2023 NFL Draft Running Backs Targets for the Cincinnati Bengals


As the Cincinnati Bengals prepare to extend long-term pieces like Joe Burrow, difficult cap decisions will occur. One of those predicaments is what to do at running back. Joe Mixon will be 27 by week one and is unlikely to stay on the team at his current cap hit past the upcoming season. They can save $10 million by releasing him after June 1st. When the cap crunch hits, the Bengals will not have the luxury of paying a running back.

The 2023 NFL Draft class is one of the deepest and most talented rushing groups in recent memory which puts the Bengals in a prime position to draft a replacement or pick up a complementary piece. Here are three prospects that Cincinnati should consider drafting on day two.

Devon Achane – Texas A&M

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The fastest player in the draft is Texas A&M running back Devon Achane. The speedster was also a track star at the university, running a personal record of 10.14 seconds in the 100-meter dash. That explosiveness pops on film. 

Achane is a threat to take any play to the house. However, he comes with faults. Just a slender 5’9 185 pounds, he struggles between the tackles and does not add much as a pass protector. His speed would be a game-changer in the running back room. He could also be a lethal weapon for Burrow in the receiving game.

His size did not prevent him from having a very productive collegiate career, rushing for 2,376 yards and 21 touchdowns in three seasons. He may not be an every down back right away, but Achane has one of the highest ceilings in the 2023 draft class.

Roschon Johnson – Texas

Some Bengals fans would love to draft Bijan Robinson with their first-round pick. Robinson would be a home-run addition to the offense, but it is unlikely he falls to pick 28. A nice consolation prize would be his sidekick at Texas, Roschon Johnson. He had a respectable career for the Longhorns, rushing for over 2000 yards and 23 touchdowns. He is a powerful back with a 6’0 225 pound frame.

He has a three-down skillset and is one of the better pass protectors in the class. If the team opts to let Samaje Perine walk in free agency, Johnson would immediately slot into that role and potentially be an upgrade.

Johnson has some Dameon Pierce and Tyler Allgeier to his game. He could be a late day two/early day three pickup that leads a backfield. He has experience working in tandem with a star running back, which would be perfect with Mixon. When Cincinnati decides to move on, Johnson can step into the feature role.

Eric Gray – Oklahoma

Joe Burrow and the Bengals love to run five-wide sets and utilize running backs in the receiving game. Mixon has flashed as a pass catcher but sees limited third-down reps due to his pass protection. Perine is serviceable but has limited athletic tools. Eric Gray is the player that Bengals fans hoped Chris Evans would be. He is a natural receiver and route runner out of the backfield. 

Cincinnati has somewhat moved away from Zac Taylor’s zone-blocking roots. Gray’s most natural fit, but he can thrive in any scheme. He was spectacular during his senior season at Oklahoma, rushing 6.4 yards per carry. He best projects as a third-down back but is a powerful enough runner to grow into a primary role.


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