2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect: Joe Mixon
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 227
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Mixon's season was a roller coaster of emotions, and he could be the most polarizing player in this draft. On the one hand, I see a football player that is in the top handful of running backs in the country. On the other, there is the issue of what happened prior to his freshman season, and the video being released this year. It is difficult to look at the actions of a teenager and judge what kind of adult he will become. It is also important to point out that Mixon has served his punishment both by the team and the courts. This is not an open case, although there is a current lawsuit that the victim is pursuing. Still, the video paints a nauseating picture of an issue that is plaguing the NFL and society in general. The idea of any man, regardless of age, balling up his fist and punching a female in the head is disturbing, and to say it will affect his draft stock is an understatement. Tyreek Hill was involved in a similar incident with his pregnant girlfriend at Oklahoma State that resulted in his draft stock sinking from a likely day-two selection to the fifth round, and there was no video in that situation. As much as I think Mixon has day-two talent, I wouldn't be shocked if he went undrafted.
As a player, Mixon has a lot to like. He has very good size and sneaky athleticism and speed. It doesn't look like he is running as fast as he is, but when you see players around him losing ground, you understand that he is really moving. An ideal fit for him would be in a one-cut scheme. He shows good vision, and when he sees the running lane, he sticks that back foot in the ground and gets up field quickly. He has a bit of an upright running style similar to former-Sooner DeMarco Murray, but Murray was better at lowering his shoulder on defenders. Still, Mixon has power and is not an easy player to get to the ground. He also has above-average lateral quickness. He can change direction well which makes him that much more of a big-play threat. Like most college running backs, he will need to develop some patience, but if he does, he could be one of the top backs out of this class.
In the passing game, he has developed skills that not many backs in the country possess. Obviously, he's had to share duties with teammate Samaje Perine, who is not built to be much help in the passing game. That forced Mixon to focus on things like running routes, extending his hands to the ball, and pass protection. He still has a ways to go as a blocker, but he is a step further than most of his peers. He is very advanced at running routes. He sets up defenders well with good footwork and separates with ease. He also does a good job at extending his hands to the ball as opposed to letting it get to his body. Backs with this ability are becoming more valuable because teams are taking advantage of defensive personnel. If teams choose to use a dime package with him on the field, he is a weapon as a runner. Still, if they leave an extra linebacker in, they can motion him out and exploit the mismatch. This is becoming a trend, and Mixon, as well as Ohio State's Curtis Samuel and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, are favorable players in those roles.
As far as the negatives, I hate to beat a dead horse, but I am going to because I think it is an issue teams will want him to address. On the field, there is not a lot to dislike about him. I think he has the abilities to be a feature back in some offenses, and he is obviously more than capable of handling the duties of a change-of-pace back. His value as a return man goes to further his worth. Still, I occasionally see things on the field that worry me, and they are tied to his actions that got him suspended for his entire freshman year. This is a player that has all the ability to be in the NFL. That opportunity was nearly taken away from him because of an unspeakable decision he made on his 18th birthday. A second chance is never guaranteed in this life, and that does not just pertain to football. For a player with dreams of playing in the NFL, whether it be for the money, fame, or just the love of the game, it would seem devastating to consider losing that chance before it has even presented itself. Having said that, a life-changing event like he has faced would likely result in a deeper appreciation for the game. That is why I get so bothered when I see him drop the football before crossing the goal line so he can celebrate against Ohio State, or jawing with opponents after plays. There is an arrogance about him that just shouldn't exist. Now I get that many players are guilty of showboating the way he does, but how many of them nearly lost the chance to pursue their dream of playing this game. As a scout, you would hope to see a humble individual that understands the repercussions of one bad decision. Egotistical plays from a guy with his history are a major red flag that this guy may only regret getting caught for what he did as opposed to the actions themselves. I can't tell you if he did or didn't. I haven't met Mixon. I can only go by what I see on tape. But I do know if I worked for an NFL team, when I sat down with him, I would want to ask him about what he was thinking in those scenarios on the field, because while he has served his punishment for what he did, it is also imperative that he learned from it.
Overall, Mixon will get the opportunity to play out his dream, and create a life for himself that may have never been possible without football. More importantly, he can be a shining example of what can happen to a person who is given a second chance because the truth is, there are plenty of people who have lost their right to be free in this country because of a single unfortunate, albeit devastating mistake that they made before they truly became an adult. There is no questioning that he has the ability on the field, but he has a label attached to him that can define him if he lets it. On the other hand, he can rise above the label, and truly be an example that second chances are warranted to those who learn from their mistakes. Compares to (Current NFL Player): Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders) or Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons)
- Terrific combination of size, strength, and athleticism
- Good vision
- Advanced abilities on passing downs
- Explosive through hole
- Added value in the return game
- Off-the-field issues coupled with an arrogance on the field create red flags
- Runs a bit high at times that leave him vulnerable
- Limited experience due to splitting reps with Perine and the suspension
Sports Illustrated: OU running back Joe Mixon will get drafted   - NewsOK |
2)   http://nypost.com/2017/02/09/victim-in-joe-mixon-fight-gives-her-side-of-story/   - New York Post |
3)   Anonymous NFL scouts already are making excuses for when their teams draft Joe Mixon
- WashingtonPost.com |
4)   Joe Mixon Twitter|