The most controversial draft prospect in recent years is Joe Mixon, as a video of him punching a female in the face went viral, and nearly got him in legal trouble. If he was a clean character, then he would potentially be the first running back off the board as he looks like a generational talent at the position. His stock will fall, but this profile will only focus on his ability.
Weight: 226 lbs
Mixon was not invited to the Combine because of his troubled past, which will hurt his draft stock for the handful of teams that are actually willing to draft him.
Mixon has an incredible burst of speed, and when he hits a gap, he tends to go very far. He can simply leave linebackers for dead, and he is someone who could take any NFL offence from mediocre to elite straight away.
He is a three-down back who can run wheel routes, which adds an extra dimension to most NFL playbooks, and he proved as an Oklahoma Sooner that he can be an effective play-action weapon. He is the best pass-catching back in this draft, and he would be a good fit in most spread or west coast offences. He is not limited to this type of offense, however, and he could still provide something in a power-based offence.
Something that sticks out on the film is his good stiff arm, and this means he will be able to create extra yards and fight off safeties. He has a lot of big-play ability, and whilst he is quite clearly a piece of human garbage, he could be a championship calibre player.
He isn’t just a powerful running back, he is a smart player who can read defences, and this is why I think he is the best running back in this draft class.
Bar the character concerns, the only real weakness that I see is that he can at times, be too patient. This problem will be minimised if he ends up behind a great offensive line, but if he ends up behind a line with poor guard play, he could be a sitting duck for NFL standard edge rushers to finish.
His other small problem is that he fumbles more than the other top level running backs do, but it is hardly at Matt Jones-level fumble problem, so calling him out on this would just be nit-picking.
Top Three Team Fits:
Detroit Lions: The Lions spent big on their offensive line this summer, which means they probably want to expand their offence more. Mixon is a dual-threat player who would almost certainly be their first thousand yard rusher in what seems like a lifetime. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield would the Lions one of the most unpredictable offensive teams in the NFL.
Oakland Raiders: Oakland’s draft talk is very quiet, but they may be tempted to take a punt on Mixon in the second round. Their ownership hasn’t been particularly open minded in the past about off-field issues, but with Derek Carr in the last year of his rookie deal, this might be their best chance to win a Super Bowl. They won’t win one with Deandre Washington and Jalen Richard at running back.
Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid always creates a good locker room atmosphere, and this would be the best case scenario for Mixon. Mixon needs a locker room with a lot of veterans, and he needs a team that wins games so the spotlight isn’t always on him. Kansas City may not want to take another high maintenance character after they took Tyreek Hill last year, but Mixon would be fun in Andy Reid’s system.
Analytics-based front offices cut through all kinds of biases when making their predictions, so Mixon will find himself selected in the top three rounds. What he did was inexcusable, but teams may feel they can reform his character with a good, strong locker room.
Pro Comparison: Le’Veon Bell
Draft Prediction: The Detroit Lions will draft Mixon at the bottom of the second round, and they will hope veteran coach Jim Caldwell can mould him into a better human being, as well as a top running back.