If NFL teams selected players in the draft by pure talent alone, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon would easily be a first-round pick. I don’t think there is any question about that. NFL pundit Mel Kiper has Mixon as his number one running back in the draft.
“On talent, he’s the best running back in the draft,” Mel Kiper told USA Today. “On talent, and on ability, the kid averaged over 6 yards a carry in 9 games this year, he averaged almost 15 yards a catch, he had a 97-yard kickoff return against Ohio State, he’s 228 pounds and he ran 4.43. He was a top kid coming out of high school, so he’s an elite–like [Leonard] Fournette–to me he’s a better back than Fournette, on talent.
However, the product on the field isn’t all that matters. How players conduct themselves off the field is a growing concern in the NFL. Let’s face it, the NFL has some egg on their face following the Ray Rice incident, along with several others, and fewer and fewer teams are taking a risk on guys in fear of public backlash.
That is bad news for Mixon. Just in case you live under what must be the most comfortable rock in the whole world, Mixon caved in the face of a female student just before his freshman year at OU, and he’s been haunted by that split-second decision ever since. Mixon was suspended for that season and has since apologized a few different times, but is that enough to earn a second chance and get a shot at chasing his dreams in the NFL?
For some NFL teams that answer is no. The NFL has already sent the message that they aren’t going to gloss over Mixon’s past by barring him from the NFL Combine in February, and a couple of teams have publicly said they will not have Mixon on their draft board.
According to one report, there is a “zero percent chance” that the Miami Dolphins will draft Mixon. And they aren’t alone. Robert Craft, owner of the New England Patriots, told the Boston Herald that they won’t be drafting Mixon either.
“While I believe in second chances and giving players an opportunity for redemption, I also believe that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right,” Kraft told the Herald. “For me, personally, I believe that privilege is lost for men who have a history of abusing women.”
It isn’t all bad news for the Sooner’s back, though. He had an incredible pro day where he showed what he is capable of, and we know that someone will take a shot on Mixon. He is simply too talented to ignore. Much like the Kansas City Chiefs took a risk on former Oklahoma State running back Tyreek Hill, someone is going to get a bargain in Mixon.
We won’t know who that will be until April 27, but NFL GMs and scouts think Mixon will probably go in the second round, and at least one NFL is has already indicated they will have Mixon on their board.
RE: Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon. Very clear after Jeffrey Lurie and Doug Pederson spoke that the #Eagles will keep him on their draft board.
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) March 29, 2017