NFL Draft: The Curious Case of Joe Mixon

Story posted April 6, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

The NFL Draft always has a player that is polarizing to the public, whether it’s due to his on-field demeanor or his off-field antics. Joe Mixon is this draft’s polarizing player, with teams around the league having widespread opinions on him.

On the field, he is a dynamic athlete that ran a 4.43 40, had a vertical leap of 35 inches, and benched 225 pounds 21 times. Mixon ran for over 1,200 yards this season, averaging around seven yards a carry.

He also caught 37 passes for 538 yards, proving to everyone that he is dual threat back out of the backfield. The only problem is scouts are not questioning what Mixon can do on the field, rather what he does off of it.

In July of 2014, Mixon punched a female student in the face, causing her fractures in her face. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor and was suspended from the university that year.

The video of the assault was released in December 2016 and many NFL teams are considering if Mixon is worth drafting. He was not invited to the combine due to the new rule implemented by the league on domestic abuse.

Teams like the Dolphins and Patriots have openly said they will not take Mixon due to the incident and many other teams have similar feelings. He has all the talent to contribute to those teams, but how much resources will they put in to keep him on the field.

The locker room of a team has to accept Mixon for what he has done and many teams do not have the type of players to keep players like him on the straight and narrow. Also, most teams do not want to associate themselves with players like him as it gives the organization a bad name.

His case is very similar to Ray Rice back in 2014. The former All-Pro running back was caught on video hitting his wife in an elevator in Atlantic City in February.

He was released by the Ravens in September and has not been signed by a team since. Rice has all the ability to succeed in the NFL, yet no team has considered signing him.

That looks worse for Mixon because Rice was a proven commodity in the NFL, while Mixon has not even played a down of professional football. The upside is there, but will the risk be worth the reward.

Multiple teams are interested in drafting him as the Lions, Browns, Saints, and Bengals all met with Mixon individually, with the Lions being the only team on the list to not have him visit yet.

The concern with drafting him is the fan base as most fans hate Mixon and do not think that he should have the opportunity to play in the NFL. They do not care how good of a player he is, but remember his poor judgement off the field.

The team that is willing to draft Mixon will have to be certain the locker room will support him, the team staff give him the help he needs, and Mixon’s head stays true to what he has been saying. Mixon is saying all the right things in the interviews, but will that help him get drafted higher?

 

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu