Oklahoma University running back Joe Mixon was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 48th pick in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft. Mixon had enough talent to be drafted in the first round, but after the devastating video emerged of him striking a female student during a 2014 altercation, many wondered just how low he might fall.
Mixon was suspended the entire 2014 college football season by the Sooners, but he returned to the field in 2015. Joe Mixon received minimal work during the 2015 season as phenom running back Samaje Perine earned the starting job. After serving a one-game suspension during the 2016 season for a separate off-field issue, Mixon returned once again carrying a heavier load for the Sooner offense. According to ESPN, he amassed 1,274 rushing yards on 187 carries and scored a total of 16 touchdowns not including his passing touchdown against Big 12 foe Kansas State. Mixon’s final game was played in the Sugar Bowl against the Auburn Tigers. He gained 91 yards on the ground and hauled in five catches for another 89 yards and scored two touchdowns. This game proved to be another controversial moment in Mixon’s career as he was defended by commentator Brent Musburger on two occasions during the game.
Obstacles would continue to pop up in Mixon’s way as he would attempt to make his NFL dreams come true. He was not invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis and would only have his pro day to prove to the scouts what he was capable of. In an article on NFL.com, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said that he spoke with a scout who was in attendance at the pro day. The scout spoke incredibly well of Mixon, saying, “That was a Round-1 workout in any draft class.” This statement is even more incredible considering that this year’s draft class was teaming with big name running backs including Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook. Only Fournette and McCaffrey went in the first round, but both Cook and Mixon were early day two selections.
The Bengals were one of only four teams that had said they were willing to draft Mixon, and they viewed him as one of the best players in the draft. In an article by ESPN Mixon said, “I was very straight up,” with the Bengals regarding the 2014 incident. After he was selected he was overcome with emotions and had to take several breaks to cry throughout his interview, but he did state that he is “thankful and very honored to be a part of — to be a Cincinnati Bengal.”
The Bengals had their concerns regarding Mixon, but when talking with ESPN, head coach Marvin Lewis said, “We’ve done all of our due diligence we can do, time spent interviewing people, everybody around him, everybody around his background, people that have coached at Oklahoma for insight regarding him and how he has carried himself since that day.” All of their research resulted in the Bengals feeling confident moving forward with their selection of Joe Mixon. Regarding the video of Mixon punching the young lady, Lewis also said, “I don’t know who isn’t disgusted with what they saw. But that’s one day in a young man’s life, and he’s had to live that since then and he will continue to have to live that.”
It is suspected that despite the Bengals having two solid running backs in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, Mixon will have an opportunity to make an impact in their backfield. He certainly has the talent necessary to have a successful career in the NFL, and the Bengals will be able to see early just how well their draft day risk pays off.
It is not uncommon for players to get drafted when they have a history of off-field issues, but Mixon’s case is different in the fact that such a gruesome video was shown so often when talking about him. In fact, ESPN, somewhat controversially, showed the video immediately following the Bengals selection. As Marvin Lewis said, Mixon will continue to have to live with his decisions that day, but now that he has been selected in the draft and made it to the NFL, he will have another opportunity to prove himself both on and off the field.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images]