Joe Mixon may not be model human being, but he is an extraordinarily good football player and the Philadelphia Eagles should not shy away from drafting him.
There’s no draft prospect in recent memory quite as polarizing as Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon. While the 20-year-old running back has exceptional talent, his off-field actions are reckless, irresponsible and, quite frankly, disturbing.
In December, video from a 2014 incident was released showing Mixon, just 18 years old at the time, violently striking a female in the head. The blow resulted in multiple bone fractures to the victim’s face, which required surgical repairs. Mixon was suspended for the entire 2014 season as a result of the incident.
His poor decision-making didn’t end there. In 2016, he was suspended for one game following a heated exchange between himself and a parking attendant, where he reportedly tore up a parking citation and threw it at the parking attendant’s face. He then got into his vehicle and inched closer to the attendant as an attempt to intimidate, according to the incident report.
Mixon clearly has some major character issues. So who in their right mind would even consider drafting him?
Well, the Philadelphia Eagles, apparently.
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According to NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks, the Eagles still have Mixon on their draft board and are seriously considering selecting him in the 2017 NFL Draft, which, from a football standpoint, makes a lot of sense. With Ryan Mathews likely to be released and Darren Sproles set to retire at the end of the 2017 season, the team very clearly needs a running back. Mixon, despite his off-field issues, would be able to step right in and lead the Eagles’ backfield from day one.
Mixon’s skill set also perfectly aligns with what Doug Pederson and the Eagles are looking for in a running back—a versatile player who can run, catch and play on all three downs. At 6’1″, 226 pounds, Mixon has the size and skill to handle a heavy workload, which he put on full display in college.
In just two seasons at Oklahoma, Mixon rushed for over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns with an average (!) of 6.8 yards per carry. He also caught 65 balls for 894 yards and nine more scores. Athletes like Mixon do not come around often, which only makes his character concerns that much more discouraging.
As the draft inches closer, all 32 clubs will need to make their final assessment on whether Mixon would be a worthwhile roster addition. Many of them have already made their decision and eliminated him from their draft boards. The Eagles, however, do not appear to be one of those teams.
And they shouldn’t be.
Although Mixon’s off-field issues are significant, he still remains one of the top prospects available in this year’s historically deep running back class. It may be tough to swallow, but the Eagles shouldn’t avoid him because of the horrible mistakes he’s made in the past. After all, this is an organization that has shown it isn’t afraid to give players second chances (see Michael Vick, Riley Cooper, for example).
If Mixon is available when the Eagles make their second-round selection, it will be interesting to see if Philadelphia pulls the trigger. If they choose not to, it would be hard to argue with their ethical decision. But they’d also be missing out on one of the better running back prospects the NFL has seen in years.