The Denver Broncos Must Be Careful with RB Joe Mixon

Does the risk of Joe Mixon the person outweigh the reward of Joe Mixon the player?

One of the most talked about draft prospects heading into April is Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon. Some draft experts say Mixon could be the best back in this entire draft. Those are big words considering this is one of the best and deepest running back drafts in recent history. Unfortunately for Mixon, most of the talk isn’t because of the work he has done on the field, but the issues he has had off of it. In July of 2014, Mixon punched a female student after she shoved him, breaking four bones in the woman’s face. Mixon was only charged with a misdemeanor and was suspended by the university for the entire 2014 season.

The incident was caught on tape and was just released to the public this past December. In the video, Mixon is seen punching the woman, He also had another incident getting into an argument with a parking attendant after receiving a ticket, which led to a one-game suspension last season.

However, teams won't ignore the talent that Mixon has shown on the field. He is one of the most well-rounded and talented players in the entire draft. This past season, he rushed for 1,274 yards, 6.8 yards per carry, and 10 touchdowns to go with 37 receptions, 538 yards, and five receiving touchdowns. Add in his special-teams ability, and you have a guy that can impact a game in many different ways.

While he wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine just a couple of weeks ago because of the off-field reasons previously discussed, he did show very well at Oklahoma's Pro Day, running a 4.43 second 40-yard dash (good enough for fourth fastest at the Combine among running backs).

On the bench press he had 21 reps and added a 35-inch vertical jump to cap off an impressive day. Taking the off the field issues out of the picture it is easy to see why so many consider him a very high first-round talent.

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As with every prospect teams are considering though that is only part of the picture that goes into these decisions. There are rumors that some teams have taken Mixon completely off their board. The incident is just too irreconcilable for them to want Mixon associated with their franchise. Also, some teams might not think they have a strong enough locker room to take on a potentially difficult personality.

It's been confirmed that the Denver Broncos at this point are not one of those teams, with Mixon coming in for a visit today to team headquarters. GM John Elway has shown in the past that off-field incidents do not automatically get players taken off their board. In fact, Elway has taken some players especially in the first round that have fallen because of off-field incidents.

Bradley Roby had a few run-ins with the law, but after doing his due diligence, Elway felt comfortable that Roby could put those things in the past and allow his talent shine on the field. Shane Ray also had an incident with marijuana close to the draft, seeing his stock go from top-10 pick to the the back half of the first round.

However, we must delineate between violence against women and recreational marijuana use. There's a big difference between what Roby and Ray dealt with and what haunts Mixon's history. 

The Broncos have a very strong locker room and a fellow running back in C.J. Anderson that can be a very good mentor for a young talent like Mixon. At the same time, what Mixon did goes beyond just a stupid mistake by a young kid.

The risk in this situation is very high for whatever team takes him in the upcoming draft. There will also be some push back by fans not happy to see a player being taken with such an egregious history. The Broncos need to make sure the risk is worth the reward.

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Carl Dumler is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @supermanlives4

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