Joe Mixon is surely the most controversial prospect in this year’s NFL draft, but his list of team visits is also sure to keep growing.
Right or wrong in the bigger picture, running back Joe Mixon was not invited to the 2017 NFL Combine due to an incident in 2014 where he punched a woman. Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn expressed disappointment Mixon was not in Indianapolis while confirming the Oklahoma product was on the team’s draft board.
Mixon participated in Oklahoma’s Pro Day last week, with multiple teams meeting with him the night before. All indications are that Mixon had a terrific workout, as much as that has value in a setting where players are set up to succeed, thus confirming his first-round talent if there was nothing off the field to consider.
After his incident with the woman, Mixon was suspended for the entire 2014 season by Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. Stoops has since acknowledged Mixon would probably have been kicked off the team if the incident happened today. But he was able to play, and while splitting carries with Samaji Perine over the last two seasons Mixon averaged 6.8 yards per carry with 65 receptions over that span.
Mixon should have plenty more pre-draft visits over the next month or so, as teams evaluate him on and off the field on their terms. Where he’ll be drafted is difficult-if not impossible-to-pinpoint, but there is a faint chance Mixon is a first-round pick. Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey seem likely to be the first three running backs drafted right now, and even in a deep class at the position, Mixon could wind up being No. 4 on a lot of team’s draft boards.
There’s no getting around the possible fan backlash attached to drafting Mixon. But if an owner signs off on it, and Mixon can inspire confidence the incident from college won’t be repeated during visits, his talent says he will be drafted no later than Day 2 come late April.