The last time we discussed a topic like this it was Frank Clark — long before the Seahawks took him in the second round. The community here handled the debate with maturity and I hope that’ll be the case again.
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Joe Mixon might be the most explosive player in college football not named Leonard Fournette. That’s not a surprise. Here’s a list of the top-20 2014 High School recruits per Rivals:
1. Da’Shawn Hand (DL, Alabama)
2. Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)
3. Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)
4. Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
5. Quin Blanding (S, Virginia)
6. Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)
7. Kyle Allen (QB, Texas A&M)
8. Joe Mixon (RB, Oklahoma)
9. Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)
10. Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida)
11. Travis Rudolph (WR, Florida State)
12. Racean Thomas (RB, Auburn)
13. Sony Michel (RB, Georgia)
14. Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
15. Malachi Dupre (WR, LSU)
16. Bo Scarborough (RB, Alabama)
17. Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)
18. Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
19. Raekwon McMillan (LB, Ohio State)
20. Damian Price (OL, Maryland)
Here are some other select names lower down the list:
26. Malik McDowell (DL, Michigan State)
31. DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
35. Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
38. Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
49. Curtis Samuel (WR, Ohio State)
52. Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon)
61. Budda Baker (S, Washington)
77. Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
It reads like a who’s who of 2017 draft prospects. The best of the best in college football. It’s unusual for the top-20 to have so many names destined not just for the NFL — but as high draft picks. Mixon being at #8 in this group says a lot about his potential.
On tape he is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most impressive prospects you’ll watch this year. Oklahoma’s offense/team is a bit of a mess — but when Mixon is involved it’s must-see TV. Jenni Carlson wrote this piece calling — no demanding — the Sooners feature Mixon instead of persisting with a committee involving fellow running back Samaje Perine.
Mixon has everything you look for. Breakaway speed and the ability to accelerate at the second level, toughness and the willingness to finish runs, ability in the passing game, the physicality to push the pile and break tackles plus the elusiveness to make people miss. As a bonus he’s also a terrific kick returner. Mixon is 6-1 and 226lbs — the same height and 9lbs heavier than Adrian Peterson at the 2007 combine.
He has the freaky athleticism the Seahawks seem to love — plus the suddenness, physicality and ability to turn a good play into a scoring play.
Joe Mixon pic.twitter.com/CULHpgyUKL
— Kyle (@IgglesNest) September 5, 2016
Hello Joe Mixon pic.twitter.com/wuSAW72zvq
— Kyle (@IgglesNest) September 5, 2016
When I wrote about Frank Clark in 2015 — I said something like this: He’s an explosive talent, one of the best in the draft. His tape is incredibly underrated and he dominates. He is a first round, top-20 talent based on what you see on the field. Yet his well publicised character flags involving domestic violence will make him undraftable for many — and some fans and the media will be uncomfortable and find it unacceptable if the Seahawks were to draft him.
This is, unfortunately, a similar situation with Mixon.
In Clark’s case the police report suggested he punched a woman in the face. It also quoted the victim’s brothers as saying they witnessed Clark punch her. He was dismissed by Michigan. After drafting him, the Seahawks claimed they conducted a thorough investigation before making the decision.
John Schneider said the following:
“Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank Clark’s situation and background… We have done a ton of research on this young man. There hasn’t been one player in this draft that we have spent more time researching and scrutinizing more than Frank. That’s why we have provided Frank with this opportunity and are looking forward to him succeeding in our culture here in Seattle.”
It was a decision that led to an initial backlash, especially at a time when the league was handling the high-profile Ray Rice domestic violence case. This article on Deadspin used the headline: ‘The Seahawks Didn’t Care Whether Frank Clark Punched A Woman‘
Two years ago Mixon entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor assault charge for punching Amelia Molitor in response to her pushing and hitting him. The incident happened on July 25, 2014.
Unlike the Clark case where there was no video evidence, surveillance video of the incident shows, after the two had a discussion, Amelia Molitor pushing, then slapping Mixon, followed by Mixon punching Molitor. The video hasn’t been released yet but has been shown to reporters and could eventually be released to the public.
The plea allowed him to maintain his innocence while also admitting that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict.
As a consequence Mixon received a one-year deferred sentence and was required to perform 100 hours of community service and undergo counselling. He was suspended for the entire 2014 season by the Sooners although he was allowed to take classes and keep his financial aid but not take part in any team activities.
The incident became a heated talking point:
Norman Police Department's official Twitter account, on Joe Mixon in a since-deleted tweet. Wow. pic.twitter.com/sllQSYlN01
— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) October 31, 2014
Mixon was reinstated by the team on February 14th 2015 and played last season. He was kept away from media duties and didn’t talk at all throughout the season — until he was required to speak per the rules of the Orange Bowl. It appears he was advised not to discuss the incident:
— Brady Vardeman (@BradyVardeman) December 29, 2015
There’s a very obvious legal case for why he shouldn’t be talking to the media but some have argued the moment was not handled well by the Sooners:
The footage of the press conference isn’t particularly easy to watch. A well prepared apology or signs of sincere regret upon his return would’ve been preferable — instead this delayed, awkward and forced exchange really didn’t aid the situation.
Mixon hasn’t spoken to reporters since the Orange Bowl in December 2015 but last month Bob Stoops suggested he might be set to speak again:
“It’s something we’ve talked about… I’ve talked about it with the administration. We’re working on that. So there’s a possibility.”
Brady Vardeman notes, ‘It’s unlikely Mixon’s lawyers would allow him to talk about his incident with Molitor given the ongoing civil suit filed by her legal team in July.’
It’s impossible to know how the NFL will handle this. Frank Clark was dismissed by Michigan immediately after his incident but still attended the combine and then became a second round pick. He started his pro-career with no limitations, suspensions or sanctions and people rarely refer to what happened anymore.
Mixon wasn’t dismissed by Oklahoma but did sit out a whole season. In context it really isn’t much of a ‘punishment’ but will it conveniently allow the league or specific teams to judge the situation as at least partially addressed?
Clark didn’t fall much by going in round two. Who knows what’ll happen to Mixon — a legitimate first or second round talent. He could fall completely off the radar and never get a chance, he could be an UDFA or like Clark he could still be an early pick.
Teams will investigate. They will research the incident, the legal case and Mixon as an individual.
As the writer of this blog all I try to do is highlight the talent in college football so we can discuss possible Seahawks picks in the draft. I don’t know if Seattle or any other team would entertain drafting Mixon. This isn’t any kind of endorsement — but the Clark situation suggests we also shouldn’t avoid the subject. Talking about Clark pre-draft at least gave the readers of this website an insight into his backstory before the team subsequently selected him.
Mixon truly has the ability to be one of the great playmakers in the NFL. Seriously. We’ll see if the NFL decides he deserves a chance to prove it.
One other note on Mixon — when asked who his mentors were during a pre-college interview, the first name he gave was Marshawn Lynch: