Reports are surfacing late Friday that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and Baylor receiver Ishmael Zamora have not been invited to the NFL Combine. The decision not to invite Mixon and Zamora isn’t all that shocking. Both players have been involved in very public off-the-field issues while the NFL is trying to rebuild their image in the wake of player incidents, such as the Ray Rice video, and the NFL said last year that players with convictions for domestic violence, sexual assault or weapons offenses would not be invited to the combine.
For Mixon, who was caught on video punching and knocking a female student unconscious two years ago, missing the combine is yet another blow to his draft status. In January is was revealed that he did not receive the 1st-round draft grade as he told reporters when he declared for the draft. In fact, he was never even graded as he wasn’t one of the five players, which is the limit, Oklahoma submitted for review.
However, Mixon’s agent, Peter Schaffer, seemed optimistic in early January about the talented running back’s chances of being drafted in the first round, and was down right combative with Dusty Dvoracek and Mark Rogers in an interview with the Sports Animal in Oklahoma City.
Sports Animal: Let’s get right into it. I’ve talked to several people about Joe and what he should, what they would advise, current NFL front office people, former NFL front office people. By far and large, the information that I received was that he would potentially help himself tremendously if he would come back. Is that the information that you were getting and what advice did you give Joe in this big decision of his?
Peter Schaffer: I don’t necessarily know that that’s an accurate depiction of what people are saying, with all due respect.
SA: I’m talking about people that I spoke with. There’s a lot of people
Schaffer: Who’d you speak with?
SA: What’s that?
Schaffer: Who did you speak with?
SA: Why would I tell you who I was talking with?
Schaffer: What’s that?
SA: Is that the way this works? You want me to tell you…
Schaffer: I don’t know, you just made a broad statement that you think this kid should’ve come back like you’re some type of NFL guru that knows, talks to people who are giving advice. Maybe you should’ve represented him.
Things only went south from there. To the Sports Animal’s credit, they tried to take a step back and restart the conversation, but it was clear that Schaffer wasn’t in the mood.
SA: Where do you feel Joe’s going to get drafted?
Schaffer: You can ask me that about any player and shoot, I believe, I think I’ve got six guys in the draft. I think they should go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. I do not even think like that. I have a very simple attitude in life. My attitude is I’m swimming to an island in the distance. I don’t stop whether I’m 300 yards out, 500 yards out, or two feet out to see how close I am to the island. I keep my head down and I keep swimming til my head hits the beach. And that’s how I tell every player to approach the draft process. I do not even think about where a player is going to get drafted. I don’t have that luxury because I don’t own a team or I’m not a general manager. We just put our best foot forward and we swim to the island in the distance.
SA: Will he be at the combine?
Schaffer: The combine invites for underclassmen will not go out until he officially declares and I think that date is January 16th this year. That’s something that obviously, we don’t control. The NFL controls and I see no reason that he shouldn’t be. He’s a talented enough player. But shoot, I’ve had players go to the combine and get drafted. I’ve had players that have not gone to the combine and get taken in the second round. That’s not up to me. I would assume and believe that he should be and will be. Teams want to talk to him and there’s certainly enough teams that are interested in him. I would imagine he would be there. I see no reason why he wouldn’t. I don’t know why you would ask that question.
The Sports animal asked a couple more questions, but it soon became clear that Schaffer wasn’t going to give a straight answer and they cut the interview short.
SA: All right Peter, we appreciate your time. We’ve got to go. Don’t hit your head on that beach.
Despite Peter Schaffer’s optimism, pundits across the country have been told by their sources that Mixon won’t be on at least a few team’s draft boards. The combine would have been a chance for him to get in front of some teams that still may consider him, but at this point it seems unlikely the Mixon will go in the first round, though we do expect him to be drafted. At a certain point in the draft, he’s just too good for a team not to take a chance on him.
Zamora’s exclusion from the combine comes after a short cell phone video showed Zamora crossing the line from disciplining his puppy to outright animal abuse. His exclusion is a little bit surprising considering he didn’t technically violate the NFL’s new policy, but it’s clear the NFL isn’t looking for anymore negative PR.