Joe Mixon is going to be the most polarizing figure in the draft, hands down. Sure, teammate DeDe Westbrook was arrested twice and charged once for domestic violence, but there was no video. Baylor WR Ishmael Zamora and FSU RB Dalvin Cook have had their issues with abusing dogs, but again, no video. What there is video of is Mixon violently breaking a woman’s face. While I try to stay out of this charged national debate, you can’t avoid talking about him as a football player without first addressing your feelings about this disgusting incident.
I will never condone or forgive violence against women. It’s one of the most cowardly things you can possibly do and those that commit this act should be punished harshly. Unfortunately, Oklahoma failed miserably at dishing out any kind of meaningful punishment. A redshirt season is not adequate and a plethora of other collegiate athletes have been dismissed for far less, forcing them to try and revive their careers at small school programs. Mixon should have been dismissed, period. He was not and Oklahoma should face continued severe criticism.
With that said, the NFL is a business and it is a business I do not control. They have given out many second chances, which I don’t consider to be a negative. However these second chances are largely based on skill level. Michael Vick was able to revive his career in Philadelphia because he had a special talent. Ray Rice was never allowed back, largely because he carried his wife for more yards than his longest run that season.
There are teams that will have Mixon off their draft board. There are also teams that were willing to draft eventual Chiefs’ WR Tyreek Hill after he plead guilty to punching his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach and choking her. Is it right? No. Is it fair? Who can say? The fact is the NFL team that drafts him are the ones that will have to live with that decision, not me. My job is to cover NFL prospects, and I have a job to do.
That was exhausting… now, let’s take a look at Mixon, the prospect. According to fantasy analysis Graham Barfield, Mixon ranked first in this class for yards created per attempt, yards created from inside zone, missed tackles forced per attempt, and receiving yards per route run. Additionally, 9% of Mixon’s carries resulted in gains of 20+ yards, which is the best in this class and last year’s class. Bottom line, he has the uncanny ability to consistently turn bad situations into chunk yardage and long touchdowns. Let’s get to the details…
Almost 9.1% of Joe Mixon’s carries in 2016 went for 20+ yards, which leads all RBs not only in the 2017 class — but last year’s class, too.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) February 11, 2017
Name: Joe Mixon
Class: Sophomore (RS)
Draft Grade: Top 15
Comparison: Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)
For more of my breakdowns on Joe Mixon, check out my Video Thread.
Positives: Extremely patient; will set up defenders as he presses the line of scrimmage. Able to get skinny and find creases. Crafty, quick and purposeful foot movement. Home run speed; will not get tracked down from behind. Shows superb balance and maintains speed through contact. Dangerous on tosses/sweeps/flares. Possesses a good jump cut and a powerful stiff arm. Not afraid of contact and shows decent power. Extremely productive in the passing game (37-538-5 in 2016). Makes one-handed catches when overthrown. Solid route runner out of the backfield. Adds return value. Very little tread on his tires.
Negatives: Can be too patient, even lazy approaching LOS. Will have more zero yard gain runs as windows close faster at the next level. Will get caught in the backfield trying to keep plays alive instead of taking necessary yardage. Could be more decisive in open field when obvious lane is not there. Ball security is a concern (5 fumbles on 224 touches in 2016). Tends to lean into contact with head too far beyond his feet. Production added by wide open offense and a complimentary bruiser.
Outlook: Mixon is a plug-and-play three down starter with the potential to be the most productive back in this class. It will be important that Mixon lands on a team with a line that has been together with the chemistry to adapt to his patient running style. The team picking him will have a public relations nightmare on their hands, but his talent is undeniable and will get a chance to start on Sundays. Pro Bowl caliber ceiling.