Mixon has the talent to be a very productive NFL RB, but he comes with very significant baggage. Is he worth the risk?
Despite splitting carries in his two years at Oklahoma, Mixon racked up over 2,000 yards on 300 carriers, good for an incredible 6.8 career YPC. He was also a productive receiver out of the backfield on his way to a 65-894-9 stat line. Mixon showed he has a nose for the end zone, finishing his career with 26 total TDs in only 25 games. He highlighted his collegiate career with a ridiculous 377 total yards and 5 TDs vs Texas Tech. Simply put, Mixon is a playmaker. However, Mixon’s time at OU will be remembered for a much darker reason: The running back was suspended the entire 2014 for brutally assaulting a woman. A video of the incident came out during the season and reignited the controversy that will follow Mixon his entire career.
Elite athletes have a way of making everything look smooth, and Mixon does just that. He accelerates effortlessly and runs with surprising power. For a tall back, I love how Mixon gets his pad level so low on short yardage situations. He’s a natural receiver with good hands, and has the size to be a strong blocker even though he was not asked to block much at OU. He has true three-down back potential at the next level.
Obviously, Mixon has major, major character concerns. He was not invited to the Combine, so we don’t know how he stacks up athletically to the other top backs. He gets lauded for his patience, but he gets hit behind the line a lot as a result of waiting too long for holes to open up. Ran against a lot of soft defenses in the Big 12, and benefitted from the prolific Oklahoma passing attack keeping defenders out of the box.
Mixon has the talent to go in the first round, but I’d be surprised to see him picked in the first three. He is the hardest player to peg in the entire Draft, as I could honestly see him going anywhere from the second round to completely undrafted. Zero teams were interested in Ray Rice in 2014 after a similar incident, and he was a Pro Bowler, so how could a team bite on a rookie in the same situation? I think a team takes a chance on Day 3 of the draft, similar to how the Chiefs took a flier on Tyreek Hill in the fifth round last year despite his domestic violence charges. But those character issues will linger and carry on through the start of his NFL career without a doubt.
Every team in the league would love a potential three-down back like Mixon, but few will be willing to deal with the media firestorm that will come with drafting him. A strong locker room and organization will be needed to keep Mixon out of trouble. The Patriots come to mind, as they have taken chances on questionable characters in the past (Donte Stallworth, Aaron Hernandez, Randy Moss, etc.) and Mixon would bring versatility and raw talent that current RBs LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis don’t have.
Edited by Joe Sparacio.
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