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  • Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma

    Joe Mixon's NFL future: Where could the running back land?

    Bucky Brooks
    My colleague Maurice Jones-Drew stirred up the pot the other day when he ranked Oklahoma's Joe Mixon as his No. 1 running back in the 2017 class.

    The controversial Oklahoma back has been largely ignored throughout the pre-draft process due to his involvement in a horrific act of violence against a woman in 2014. While I know this serious incident has rightly given many team execs reason for concern, many still view Mixon as a truly unique talent. In fact, I recently had an NFC scout tell me that Mixon is "the most complete back in the draft," and it really isn't close when it comes to his skills, versatility and explosive playmaking potential. Now, I know it will be hard for some people to move past his off-field transgressions, and understandably so, but everything I'm hearing tells me Mixon will be drafted, and probably in the first three rounds.

    "He's the real deal," said an AFC running backs coach. "He has a unique set of skills that could make him a star in the league. He can run inside or outside. He flashes a nice mix of speed, quickness and power. Plus, he is a natural receiver out of the backfield. He can do it all. That's hard to find in a young back coming into the league."

    When I studied Mixon during the fall, I saw a lot of the traits that the coach outlined. The former Oklahoma star flashes an impressive combination of balance, body control and vision with the ball in his hands. Mixon shows rare stop-start quickness in the hole but also possesses the strength and power to run through defenders in traffic. Not to mention, he displays home-run speed and acceleration when he reaches the second level. As a receiver, he is a natural pass catcher with outstanding hands and route-running ability. He is one of the few backs capable of lining up out wide and running routes like a receiver from a flanked alignment. Considering his diverse skill set and overall explosiveness, his game reminds me a ton of Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson.

    Given Mixon's talent and potential as an impact player, teams are doing their due diligence on him before making a decision on whether to remove him from their draft boards. General managers and coaches went through a similar ordeal with Kansas City Chiefs' star Tyreek Hill a season ago when he entered the NFL with domestic violence issues in his past. After drafting Hill last year, coach Andy Reid explained some of the process that went into the team's decision. Hill's successful rookie season (first-team All-Pro) has undoubtedly led some teams to pause before removing an ultra-talented player with a checkered past from their board.

    In fact, teams are examining their coaching staffs and support systems to see whether they would be able to handle everything that comes with drafting a player as polarizing as Mixon. When I survey the landscape, I certainly believe there are a handful of teams equipped to handle Mixon and his complicated situation.

    Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid has been known to give troubled players second chances during his time in the league. He signed Michael Vick in Philadelphia when few would touch the star after his dog abuse convictions. Not to mention, Reid used a late-round selection on Hill despite serious concerns about his character. Although Reid will certainly not turn a blind eye to Mixon's situation, he has created an environment for troubled players to turn around their lives. Plus, the Chiefs have a no-nonsense RB coach (Eric Bienemy) with a knack for building strong relationships with his players. That's huge in these situations.

    Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones is not afraid to gamble on high-risk, high-reward prospects. He has signed a number of questionable characters throughout his time in Dallas and leaned on his expansive support staff to help those players with their issues. Although it hasn't always worked out in the Cowboys' favor, the wily owner isn't afraid to take on the backlash that comes with signing a player with a checkered past.

    Denver Broncos: John Elway has assembled an outstanding locker room with strong leaders and a terrific support system. The team has effectively handled players with character concerns in the past (see Von Miller and Aqib Talib) and helped them work through their issues. Plus, Mixon's agent (Peter Schaffer) is based in Denver, which would provide additional support for the troubled star away from the field.

    Oakland Raiders: Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie have put together one of the NFL's most talented rosters, but the team is missing a "crown jewel" at the running back position. While owner Mark Davis has a no-tolerance policy on domestic violence, the Oklahoma star is a Bay Area native who could benefit from playing near his hometown (Oakley, California) with his family and friends in close proximity.

    Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis have successfully gambled on several character risks while building up a team that has consistently competed for playoff berths over the past decade. The team seemingly has the coaching staff and support system in place to help a troubled player manage his behavior and succeed on the field. Although there have been plenty of on-field blips (see 2016 AFC Playoff Game) throughout their tenure, the Bengals' long track record suggests they could take on Mixon's situation.
    If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.

  • #2
    Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
    Former Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon reached a civil settlement agreement Friday with the woman he punched almost three years ago.
    If you're not following the Astros, you are doing Houston sports wrong.

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    • #3
      Figured Cincinnati would take him, add to the liabilities in the playoffs. Jones and Burfict and now Dixon have shown they can't handle their emotions. Jones and Burfic in the 4th quarter, so Marvin Lewis has amplified the chokability of his team even further. Or I should say Mike Brown has done that for him.

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