Joe Mixon

Mike Brown On Joe Mixon

The Bengals recently made Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon the No. 48 overall pick of the 2017 draft, a move that predictably sparked a great deal of conversation and controversy. Mixon’s assault of a female Oklahoma student several years ago caused a number of teams to remove him from their draft boards completely — a recent report indicated that only four clubs said they would consider drafting Mixon — and any team that did select him knew it would have to contend with significant public backlash.

Joe Mixon (vertical)

Cincinnati, no stranger to taking a chance on players with character concerns, decided to take the plunge in the second round of the draft. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are on the Bengals’ roster, but neither back reached the 4.0 yards-per-carry mark last season, Hill will be a free agent next offseason, and Bernard is coming off a serious injury, having torn his ACL in November. So Mixon, who was perhaps the most talented back in this year’s class, made sense from an on-field need and value perspective.

Nonetheless, the off-field concerns needed to be addressed, and Bengals owner and president Mike Brown wrote a letter to the team’s fanbase in an attempt to do that. Here are the highlights (courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer):

On the incident itself:

“Joe’s regrettable deed was that he struck a young woman, another student, shortly after arriving on campus in Norman, Oklahoma, three years ago. Joe and this young woman recently met in person, came to terms with the incident, and they agreed to resolve their differences so they could move forward with their lives.”

On Mixon’s response to the incident:

“Since the incident three years ago, Joe was suspended by the football team, pleaded guilty in court, and accepted the consequences of his actions. He later went on to become a good citizen in Norman, a popular teammate, a player respected by his coaches, and one of the most talented players in college football.”

On why the team selected Mixon:

“[H]e is a rare football talent, and his conduct over the past three years leads us to believe he can help us win football games and also become a productive member of this community.”

On Mixon’s future with the club:

“In making our decision, we took a risk. In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside. We believe Joe has put this behind him and that he can turn into the player and community member that creates a plus for Cincinnati. We are going to do everything in our power to make this happen. Our hope is that time will prove that this opportunity is deserved, and perhaps – if given a chance – Joe can write a chapter in Cincinnati sports history that both he and Cincinnati can be proud of.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Draft Notes: Mixon, Raiders, Dolphins

Some assorted draft notes from around the AFC…

  • Half the league didn’t have embattled running back Joe Mixon on their draft board, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Meanwhile, other evaluators believe he was the best overall running back if they were only evaluating on-field skills. ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter adds that only four teams said they would consider drafting Mixon. We can assume that one of those four organizations was the Bengals, who selected the running back in the second round.
  • The Raiders selected UConn safety Obi Melifonwu in the second round, although Rapoport tweets that the organization was close to selecting the defensive back in the first.
  • The Dolphins ultimately selected defensive end Charles Harris with the 22nd pick on Thursday night. However, if the Missouri product hadn’t been available, the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero says (via Twitter) that the team would have selected Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
  • The Broncos were rather committed to selecting Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker. In fact, general manager John Elway revealed that he was willing to trade up if he needed to. “We made a lot of attempts to get up in (second round) to trade for Walker,” Elway told Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter link). “Things worked out.” Walker was selected by the Broncos with the 51st overall pick.
  • Good news out of Houston: Rapoport tweets that the Texans don’t believe running back D’Onta Foreman needs surgery on the stress fracture in his foot. The team found “no progressions in the injury at rechecks,” which apparently made them comfortable enough to select him in the third round.

Bengals Draft Joe Mixon

With the 48th pick in the draft, the Bengals have selected Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.

Joe Mixon (vertical)

Players with character concerns are nothing new for the Bengals, and Mixon is perhaps the draft’s most controversial prospect in light of the video that surfaced of him assaulting a female three years ago. A number of teams reportedly removed Mixon from their respective draft boards, as they were unwilling to deal with the backlash of selecting such a infamous player. Mixon and the victim in the case reached a civil settlement earlier this month.

While Mixon has off-field concerns, he’s one of the best running back prospects on the field, and many observers felt Mixon would have been a surefire first-round pick if he came without baggage. In 2016, put 1,274 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground for the Sooners, adding another 538 yards and five scores in the passing game.

The Bengals already have two familiar backs in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, though neither reached the 4.0 yards-per-carry mark last season. Plus, Hill will be a free agent next offseason and Bernard is coming off a serious injury, having torn his ACL in November.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Peter King On Butler, Saints, Mixon, Giants

Someone familiar with the Saints‘ thinking believes they are leaning towards keeping their first three picks rather than using them to acquire Malcolm Butler from the Patriots, Peter King of The MMQB writes. The team remains interested in the cornerback, but they believe that there are a number of players ranked between No. 25 and 75 on their board that can contribute immediately. The thought of trading one or more picks for Butler in addition to giving him a high-priced deal is not as attractive as it once was for New Orleans. The Saints presently own five picks in the first three rounds: Nos. 11, 32, 42, 76, and 103.

Here’s more from King:

  • Joe Mixon has garnered the most interest from the Bengals, Vikings, Packers, and Jaguars, King hears. King personally wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bengals take the controversial running back with the No. 41 overall pick given the team’s past willingness to gamble on a checkered history.
  • King wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants move up from No. 23 or if the Texans move up from No. 25 to get a pick in the teens. The Giants are looking for a tackle and the Texans are in need of a quarterback. The Ravens (No. 16) and Titans (No. 18) “would be happy to move down,” King writes.
  • Many of the top players in this year’s draft come with serious medical concerns. One GM told King that he has never ‘been part of a draft with so many medical red flags.”

NFL Draft Rumors: Mixon, Raiders, Eagles

Is Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon the most talented player in this year’s draft? One nameless personnel executive told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he believes that to be the case. The other execs surveyed, naturally, went in different directions. Texas A&M star Myles Garrett got 11 votes, LSU safety Jamal Adams got two, and there was one vote cast for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Unlike the others, Mixon doesn’t necessarily seem likely to go in the first round.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

Falcons Notes: Mixon, Freeney, Coleman

The Falcons are not interested in drafting running back Joe Mixon, and have removed him from their draft board given his prior assault charge, according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta becomes the third known to team to have ruled out Mixon, joining Miami and New England. Like the Dolphins and Patriots, though, the Falcons don’t necessarily need a player of Mixon’s caliber given the level of talent on their roster. In Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, Atlanta already boasts one of the better backfield tandems in the league, and can easily make the decision to avoid the headache of adding Mixon.

Here’s more from Atlanta:

  • Although veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney is likely to continue his career in 2017, the Falcons won’t decide whether to offer him a new contract until after the draft, per Schultz. Freeney, 37, probably wouldn’t have been participated in Atlanta’s spring workout sessions, so the club doesn’t feel the need to hurry into an offer. Last season, Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. He’s PFR’s No. 1 free agent edge defender. At present, Atlanta’s defensive end depth chart includes Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, Courtney Upshaw, Brooks Reed, and Jack Crawford, while the club could also select another pass rusher in the draft.
  • A long-term extension with Freeman is also on the back burner, reports Schultz, and the Falcons don’t expect to begin contract discussions until the start of training camp. Negotiations could also bleed into the regular season. Freeman, 25, is scheduled to earn $1.797MM in 2017, and was at one point reportedly looking for “elite” running back money. While Freeman and his agent have since walked back those comments, Freeman is surely still hunting for a hefty deal after combining for 2,100-plus rushing yards, 27 touchdowns (22 on the ground, five receiving) and 127 catches from 2015-16.
  • The Falcons could have interest in trading up from the No. 31 pick, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“To move up in the 20s, there will be opportunities there,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “There are some interesting candidates that will be around there in the early parts of the 20s.” Atlanta could target a number of positions of Day 1 of the draft, but edge rusher or guard seem to be the club’s clearest need areas. In PFR’s first 2017 mock draft, I sent UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley to the Falcons at the end of the first round.
  • In case you missed it, the Falcons plan to exercise left tackle Jake Matthews‘ 2018 fifth-year option. The former No. 6 overall pick had a decent showing last year, earning a 74.3 overall score on Pro Football Focus. That mark left Mathews ranked No. 37 among all tackles, putting him in the middle of the pack out of 78 qualified players. He’ll earn roughly $12.81MM in 2018, but that figure is guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2018 league year.

Draft Notes: QBs, Foster, Ross, Cook, Mixon

Although the 2017 rookie quarterback pool has been heavily scrutinized this offseason, teams are warming up to select signal-callers as the draft nears. While this shouldn’t be unexpected, given the position’s scarcity at the sport’s highest level, Charlie Casserly of NFL.com and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hear two QBs could well be taken in the top 10. A GM told Casserly he expects two quarterbacks to be taken in the top nine picks, meaning the Bills — who have been linked to passers at 10 — could have to look elsewhere if they don’t trade up. Miller points to Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes as the players most likely to be those top-nine choices, while a 22-team survey from Casserly produced Trubisky or Deshaun Watson as the quarterbacks teams identify as this draft’s best.

Here’s more from this draft pool, with the three-day event less than six days away.

  • Reuben Foster has been linked as high as No. 2 overall to the 49ers, but since, the former Alabama linebacker has run into off-field trouble on multiple fronts. And Miller hears a Myles Jack-like fall could be in store for the talented ‘backer. Viewed as a top-five talent in 2016, Jack plummeted to the Jaguars at No. 36 last year because of a severe injury he suffered while at UCLA. Foster falling out of the first round based strictly on character issues would stand as a surprise. A failed drug test and his forced exit from the Combine indeed raise red flags, but Foster has been viewed as the top off-the-ball linebacker in this draft throughout the process. It would take a lot of linebacker-needy teams to pass on him for this freefall to commence. PFR’s Zach Links asked whether Foster was going to fall out of the top 10 earlier today; slinking out of the top 32 would be something else entirely.
  • Regarding other possible falling stocks, Miller hears John Ross and Dalvin Cook may fall out of the first round as well. The Florida State back has not seen much momentum since the Combine, with a low SPARQ score accompanying a past that includes some troublesome signs. Ross underwent surgery after the Combine to repair a torn labrum but did set the event’s modern record with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash time. This isn’t the first time Miller’s warned about concerns around Ross potentially causing a slippage for the Washington-developed speedster.
  • Ross’ agent, Brad Cicala, attempted to address concerns that there’s more to Ross’ medical history. Ross underwent two surgeries to correct knee problems in early 2015, per Cicala, but did not undergo two ACL procedures. “Despite recent reports, John Ross III has never sustained 2 ACL injury’s (sic) nor has he had 2 ACL surgeries,” Cicala wrote (via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Facebook link) “In January of 2015 he endured surgery on his right lateral meniscus and in April of 2015 he had surgery on his left ACL.” Cicala adds that Ross has been deemed “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from the labrum surgery, with the wideout expected to be ready by training camp.
  • Miller is hearing Mixon’s name connected to the second round. One team to meet with the runner has a need at running back but is connected to a higher-profile name. The Raiders met with the Oklahoma product who grew up in the Bay Area, and Reggie McKenzie was satisfied with the embattled running back’s answers. “We thought he was a really good kid,” McKenzie said Friday, via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He came off really well. He explained each and every thing. The questions that we had, he had an explanation. He was upfront about everything.” Mark Davis is associated with having a “zero tolerance” policy on domestic violence, and the Raiders are currently negotiating with Marshawn Lynch. So, this would be an interesting fit, to say the least.
  • Former USC wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster said the Rams and Cowboys have shown the most interest in him, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The Los Angeles-based wideout said he would like to play for the Chargers last month.

Joe Mixon Reaches Civil Settlement

Joe Mixon and the woman he punched nearly three years ago agreed to a civil settlement on Friday, Jake Trotter of ESPN.com reports. Terms of the settlement are not available.

The likely draft pick and Amelia Molitor, the victim in the infamous incident in 2014, settled on her accusation of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Trotter reports an Oklahoma judge threw out Molitor’s accusations of negligence and willful and wanton misconduct in her original suit in November of last year.

Mixon and Molitor released a joint statement, revealing they met privately.

I’m thankful Mia and I were able to talk privately,” Mixon said in the statement. “I was able to apologize to her one-to-one. The way I reacted that night, that’s not me. That’s not the way I was raised. I think she understands that.”

The punch, one that broke four bones in Molitor’s face, resulted in Mixon being suspended from Oklahoma for the 2014 season and has led to Mixon landing as the biggest character risk in this year’s draft. The running back accepted a plea deal after the incident but returned to the Sooners’ football team a year later and put himself in position to be a possible Day 2 draft pick. The incident being caught on tape has caused several teams to remove Mixon from their respective draft boards and has the talented ball-carrier’s stock in a murky place with the draft a week away.

I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently,” Molitor said in the statement. “I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did. I’m finished talking about what happened that night with Joe. It’s time to move on from that. I wish Joe the best of luck in his future.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Mixon, Eagles, Lions, Stafford

Thanks to his off-field transgressions, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon‘s draft stock is reportedly dropping, but the Eagles are among those who have him on their board, writes Jeff McLane of Philly.com. Owner Jeffrey Lurie has given team brass his blessing to consider drafting Mixon, two sources confirmed to McLane. Notably, two of the Eagles’ key decision-makers, vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and VP of player personnel Joe Douglas, spoke highly of Mixon’s abilities on Thursday. “There’s not much he can’t do,” Roseman said. “He’s incredible with the ball in his hands, you can split him out, he’s got really good hands [as a receiver], he can pass-protect, he can make people miss.” Douglas added that “a lot of people think that he is one of the top backs in this draft,” but he noted that “most teams” are considering Mixon’s character issues.

More on Philadelphia and a pair of its NFC foes:

  • Speculatively, Mixon could be a possibility for the Eagles beginning in Round 2. Before debating whether to take him, they’ll have to make a decision in the opening round, where they’re slated to pick 14th. The club has come up with “probably about seven or eight scenarios” for that spot, according to Douglas, and Roseman expects to end up with a star-caliber player with that selection. “One thing I know — when we make a pick at 14, with the way our board looks right now, we’re going to all be high-fiving then, and very excited about that pick,” declared Roseman (via Les Bowen of Philly.com).
  • Entering a contract year, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could become the highest-paid player in the NFL by next offseason, though Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press argues that he’s not worth it. While Monarrez expects the Lions to cave to Stafford’s demands, he opines that the signal-caller’s age (30 next February) and zero playoff wins are among the reasons the team would be better off letting him test the market than become the league’s richest player in Detroit.
  • Speaking of the Lions, general manager Bob Quinn addressed the strengths of this year’s draft Thursday, saying it’s particularly deep at running back, wide receiver, cornerback, safety and tight end (Twitter link via Tim Twentyman of the team website).
  • Linebacker Sam Acho‘s one-year deal with the Bears is worth $855K, including $130K fully guaranteed, tweets ESPN’s Adam Caplan.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: Mixon, Lattimore, Peppers

It was reportedly likely as of two weeks ago that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon wouldn’t last beyond the third round of the draft, but now there’s “palpable buzz” that his stock is dropping, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Interestingly, one league source informed Florio that Mixon will go undrafted, which runs counter to the notion that many teams Mixon has met with are willing to forgive him for his sordid past. Mixon was caught on camera punching a woman in the face in 2014, and while he has since expressed remorse, his future NFL employer will undoubtedly face a public relations backlash upon adding him.

More on the upcoming draft:

  • Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore visited the Jets on Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). New York holds the sixth overall pick, with which it could theoretically take Lattimore, but it’s possible concerns over his health will cause him to slide out of the top 10. Should that happen, the Jets may still end up a candidate to draft Lattimore if they succeed in trading down.
  • The Ravens hosted Michigan defender Jabrill Peppers on Tuesday, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Peppers expects to serve as a safety in the pros, as do most teams with which he has spoken, but one sees the likely first- or second-rounder as a linebacker and another believes he’s capable of lining up on offense.
  • The Cowboys are in need of pass-rush help, which could come in the form of Missouri defensive end Charles Harris. The club’s attraction to Harris is no secret, reports Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram, though she notes that he might be off the board by the time Dallas is on the clock at No. 28 overall.
  • A couple of NFC West teams are eyeing Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, per Wilson (Twitter link). Melifonwu met with the 49ers on Tuesday and will visit the Seahawks on Wednesday. Speculatively, the 6-foot-4, 224-pounder could be a fit for the 49ers early in Round 2 (No. 34 overall) or the Seahawks late in the first (No. 26).