There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2017 NFL Draft. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for controversial redshirt sophomore running back Joe Mixon, Oklahoma Sooners.
RB-Joe Mixon, Oklahoma 6’1” 228 lbs.
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room. In 2014, Mixon struck a woman in a public place, was suspended by Oklahoma for that season, and only apologized for his actions when the video was released two years later. He had no excuses for his role and did not blame anyone else for his actions while taking questions from the media. The former Sooner also ripped up a parking ticket in front of the person issuing it this season. Because I have never met Mixon, let’s concentrate on what can be surmised with game film. I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, so I am going to break down what I saw in the six games I reviewed of the redshirt sophomore runner: 2016 contests versus Auburn, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Baylor, and Texas Tech along with a 2015 game against those same Texas Tech Red Raiders. All of these videos are available via draftbreakdown.com. These are my thoughts:
Cons: The public relations nightmare an NFL team will face drafting or signing this young man will have some ramifications. How mature is he and did he learn from his mistakes? The former Sooner may be used to cheers, but how will he deal with boos and perhaps picketers? His character after the fact and what team acquires him will tell more of the story.
Let’s transition to his football skill analysis. Mixon is not a good pass blocker, most of the time he barely gets in front of a rushing defensive player only for a second or two. He doesn’t anchor his feet and appears to hug defenders. As a run blocker, the former Sooner is slightly better, but not by much. The back likes to reverse his field and he will not be more explosive than everyone else at the next level for that to work consistently. Although Mixon is a patient runner, his patience might cause him to get swallowed up as only Steelers Le’Veon Bell can get away with that much hesitation. His leg drive after contact is lacking; I’m not saying they go dead, but it appears that he could break more tackles than he does which may have more to do with his pad level being too high. As a receiver, Mixon looks back for the ball several times; this allows whoever is covering him more time to catch up to him or find the pigskin in the air as well.
Pros: The redshirt sophomore is only 20 years old and did not have a huge amount of touches in college, so there is plenty of tread left on his tires. He is an athletic playmaker that uses his quick feet, stutter steps, jump cuts, hurdles, spins, shoulder shakes, stiff-arms, and lateral agility to get away from defenders. Mixon seems to glide away from danger, especially in the open field. When I watched his 2017 bowl game, he reminded me of former Chiefs great Priest Holmes, but after seeing him in six games I am more reminded of former 49ers/Eagle Ricky Watters in his play. There were occasions when a defender had him dead to rights in the A gap (between the center and guard) and the back still made them miss. The former Sooner has a powerful upper body that he uses to swat away defenders and a quick twitched explosive lower body that launches him forward after contact. His field vision is quite good as it allows him to follow blockers and find the cut back lane to exploit. Sometimes, it looks like he is doing slalom skiing moving from side to side between defenders who look more like stationary obstacles. He never seems to allow himself to take the full brunt of a hit.
In the passing game as a receiver, he is outstanding lining up in the slot or racing out to the flats at the snap. Mixon tracks the pigskin well in the air, catches it in stride, and can run the wheel route with ease. The runner has soft hands and uses double moves to free himself from his usual safety or linebacker coverage. Not many backs are known for their one-handed grabs and/or bucket catches down the sidelines like him. If you need help in the screen game, the former Sooner can juke someone’s cleats off and run to daylight with his timed 4.43 40 speed.
Overall impressions: The combine and the interviews during it should give us more indications as to whether an NFL team will take a risk drafting him or signing him after the draft. The talent is apparent, but so is the impaired judgement. In the worst case scenario, Mixon will get signed after the draft and used in the return game. Chances are high however that this controversial young playmaker will get selected on Day Two of the NFL Draft. Either way be prepared to make your own assessment if he is worth the pain or pleasure on your dynasty squad.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my scouting reports with you throughout the next month or so, please keep checking the site for more content. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.