One of the biggest talking points leading up to the draft has been and will continue to be the fate of Joe Mixon. It is a very interesting topic from business and societal viewpoints, for many reasons. NFL teams are scrambling to decide where and when he is worth the risk. When does his talent level off-set the potential media fallout?
Every NFL team has a unique perspective on this. Some of them are even taking it to the far extreme of claiming he is “off their board”. To me, what they are really saying is, “We have a lower grade on him than several other teams, so we won’t get him. Let’s use the opportunity to get some good PR and say we won’t ever draft him.”
The really interesting thing to me is how the media and people have reacted to this situation. Now, before I get into any of this, let me be very, very clear. In no way, shape or form am I trying to excuse, condone or downplay what Mixon did. It was absolutely terrible. What is interesting is people and the media have gone to such an extreme given how people have reacted in the past.
Mixon is far from the first NFL prospect to have a checkered past when it comes to violence against women. In fact, you can find players who were drafted each and every year with similar if not worse offences in their background. One of last year’s golden rookies, Tyreek Hill, had what I would consider a worse offence when he choked his pregnant girlfriend. This was a felony offense as opposed to Mixon’s misdemeanor charge, so clearly the law felt it was worse as well.
So why is everyone acting like Mixon is the worst character issue to ever be draft eligible?
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I have a few theories. The primary one is of course the video. Seeing it seems to make it so much worse in the eyes of the media than just reading about it. Ray Rice definitely found this out. The act is equally heinous regardless of if there is video in my eyes, but that could just be me.
Another issue for Mixon is the timing. The incident happened years ago, but the video just came out now. This makes people think it just happened and that he hasn’t ever been punished for it. This simply isn’t the case. He went to court, was sentenced, fulfilled his legal obligations and was suspended from football for a year. People seem to want their pound of flesh, thinking that nothing has ever happened to him for what he did.
Something else I’ve wondered about is if it comes down to race. We like to believe that we as a society have improved when it comes to race; however, I still think we have a ways to go on many fronts. Is it possible that the Mixon situation has been taken to such an extreme because it is a black man punching a white woman? I hope that has absolutely nothing to do with it, but I’ve seen comments online that make me think otherwise.
Regardless of the reasons why he is being viewed the way he is, the good news is that it doesn’t really have the same impact on fantasy football. Sure, it might change where he is drafted (I think he’ll go in the second round), but ESPN reporters aren’t going to be showing up at your house to ask you to explain drafting Mixon for your team.
Anyway, let us put the moral and societal views aside for now and focus on the football side of things. I’ve heard several say that if there were zero character concerns, Mixon would be one of if not the top running back prospect in this draft. In fact, four of our DLF rankers have him as their top rookie running back with an average ranking of third for the position and fifth overall. If he does get drafted to a nice situation, especially if it is in the third round or earlier, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go top four in several rookie drafts. The question for Mixon, as it is for every other player, is if he is worth that kind of investment of draft capital. Let’s take a look!
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
When you look at Mixon’s stats, one of the things we as dynasty owners love are the receiving stats. While he isn’t Christian McCaffrey by any means, in terms of production or skill level, he has shown ability as a receiver. This means he could be one of those highly coveted complete running backs. To me, some of the most impressive numbers are his averages. Over his career, he averaged 6.8 yards per carry and 13.8 yards per reception. Those are impressive numbers for someone who played at a major program against top notch competition week in and week out.
On the flip side, the numbers to show a pair of concerns for me. One of them is he was clearly used as a committee back. If you step away from the numbers, you hopefully know that Samaje Perine also played for the Sooners. Both are talented, and they split carries. Maybe that was an intentional effort to keep Mixon fresh, or maybe it is because there really isn’t that much difference in ability between the two of them. Could Mixon handle the full load and be equally productive?
The second issue I see with his stats are the touchdowns. If you dig deeper, almost all of his touchdowns were on big plays. He very seldom scored deep in the red zone. Yes, Perine is bigger and more of a bowling ball, but someone of Mixon’s size should be effective when given the chance. Mixon was just average at best in this area. Maybe that is nitpicking a little bit, but I’m simply trying to say that there are still areas of concern when it comes to his on the field play.
How does he stack up when compared to others in college? Player Profiler is one of the best resources for answering that question effectively and efficiently.
One of the first things I look for when I look at Player Profiler is for an area of deficiency. Mixon is at the 42nd percentile or better on every single measurement they track. Meaning he is at worst average in an area, if not way above like his 72nd percentile SPARQ score, 91st percentile speed score or his 91st percentile yards per carry. He definitely has the skills and the production to back up his eventual first round selection in dynasty rookie drafts.
The most interesting part of Mixon’s player profiler page just might be his best comparable. This isn’t the first place I’ve seen which has compared Mixon to Ezekiel Elliot. Now, keep in mind that Mixon’s numbers are from a pro day because he wasn’t invited to the combine (and wasn’t even listed on NFL.com as a draft eligible prospect until a few weeks ago), but there are an awful lot of physical similarities between the two players. Take a look:
Player Height Weight 40yd Dash Vertical Broad Speed Score
Elliot 6’0” 225 lbs 4.47 sec 32.5” 118” 112.7
Mixon 6’1” 228 lbs 4.50 sec 35” 118” 111.2
With that said, I like Mixon, but he doesn’t play at the same level as Elliot. Elliot definitely plays the game like he’s a 225 pound running back. He also has very quick feet which allow him to do some amazing things in tight spaces. Mixon isn’t quite the same. He can definitely make people miss, but one of my biggest complaints about him is that he seems to go down way too easily for someone his size. I don’t recall seeing him carry defenders with him into the end zone very often. I also don’t recall him regularly shrugging off would be tacklers who get more than a finger on him. He might make them miss, but once they get a hold of him he seems get tackled too easily for a 228 pound rusher.
If we want a closer look at how he compares to the rest of the running backs throughout the history of the NFL draft, Mock Draftable is a great resource.
There is a little bit of variability in the numbers between the two websites because all of Mixon’s data came from his pro day where there aren’t “official” numbers. Still, we see some definite trends and it reinforces what we’ve seen elsewhere. Mixon has great size and very good straight line speed for the position. Where he is a little bit behind the curve is in his agility measurements, but for someone of his size I think he moves pretty well when he’s on the field. Overall, he has the physical tools to be a starting running back in the NFL and on your fantasy team. Mock Draftable has him compared to players like Larry Johnson and Jamal Lewis. If he even comes close to what those guys did, he will be quite the dynasty asset!
What does he look like when he’s in pads and playing the game? Do a quick search for some highlights or just take a look here.
It doesn’t matter if you watch the clip above or a different one, you are going to see a lot of the same things. He creates a lot of big plays, makes a lot of defenders miss, shows agility above where he tested at his pro day and he has a nice set of hands. He does a very nice job of keeping defenders off of him, and when he gets into the open field he is very dangerous. One thing you won’t see in his highlight reels very often is him running over people or carrying them with him. If he was a 205 pound rusher, we wouldn’t think much of that. However, at 228 pounds, I would expect to see that from time to time. If you watch some of the other big backs in this draft class, like Leonard Fournette, you can see them running through people instead of always going around them. That just isn’t Mixon’s style.
Overall, I think you could make a very compelling argument that Mixon is the most complete running back in this year’s draft class. I’m not saying he is the best at every skill or even any skill, but he definitely has a complete skill set and could be the best combination of skills. I do have some concerns about his ability to run with power in short yardage situations and if he can be a 300 carry per season running back, but when you combine physical attributes, receiving ability and rushing ability he is a really intriguing prospect.
I have him in my top three running backs and top four players overall in this year’s draft class. This ranking will be solidified if he ends up drafted in the second round to a team with a clear need at the position. If he isn’t drafted until day three of the NFL draft, I would likely push him down my board just a little bit. Of course exactly what happens on draft day is anyone’s guess given all of the off the field issues which seem to be attached to Mixon. He is a true wildcard in this year’s draft with some big potential for NFL teams and fantasy teams alike.
- Final 2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Round Three - April 28, 2021
- Final 2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Round Two - April 26, 2021
- Final 2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Round One - April 25, 2021
I have the first 2 picks and need rbs, as long as he’s drafted relatively early and not to a terrible situation he’ll be one of those picks.
Seems like regardless of landing spot, most people are taking Mixon in the 1.02-1.05 range. In what scenario would he fall into the 1.08 – 1.10 range? If he is gone that early I’d project the round ending with a decent TE run….
I don’t think one exists. Only thing he can do to hurt himself now is to have another incident. If he does, you don’t have to worry about 1.08-1.10, he’ll be a piriah