The Green Bay Packers hosted Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon on a predraft visit, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Mixon is arguably the best running back in next month’s draft and would be a perfect fit as the three-down back preferred by Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
Mixon, however, comes with one major red flag. In July 2014, he punched a female student. The woman suffered fractured bones in her face. Mixon was suspended from the team for the 2014 season and was charged with acts resulting in gross injury — a misdemeanor. A plea deal required Mixon to complete 100 hours of community service and go through counseling.
The NFL barred Mixon from the Scouting Combine. That’s put teams in catch-up mode. The 15-minute formal Combine interviews aren’t the major issue — a player with this serious of a red flag must be vetted for longer than 15 minutes. The big issue is Mixon didn’t go through the medical checks that were the original purpose of the Combine. By bringing in Mixon, the Packers got to spend a day getting to know a superb prospect in hopes of determining whether he’s learned from his past and how he’d fit with the organization.
Mixon started only nine games in two seasons at Oklahoma but piled up 2,027 rushing yards (6.8 average) and caught 65 passes for 894 yards. That gave him a two-year total of 2,921 yards and 26 total touchdowns. In 2016, he rushed for 1,274 yards (6.8 average), caught 37 passes for 538 yards (14.5 average) and averaged 23.5 yards with one touchdown on kickoff returns. His school-record 2,331 all-purpose yards got him first-team all-Big 12 honors. Mixon was the only player in the nation in 2016 to account for touchdowns passing, rushing, receiving and returning.
According to ProFootballFocus.com’s analysis, Mixon was the 11th-most difficult running back to tackle in this year’s draft class. He’s also one of the best pass protectors. That would make Mixon a perfect choice for the Packers, with McCarthy coveting backs who don’t need to come off the field in his no-huddle attack.
At Oklahoma’s pro day, Mixon (6-1, 228) ran his 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and blazed through the 20-yard shuttle — which appears to be a key test for the Packers when it comes to scouting running backs — in 4.25 seconds.
However, his talent must be weighed against the events of the early-morning hours of July 25, 2014. In December, two videos showing the incident were made public.
Mixon apologized after the videos were released. “Honestly, it really don’t matter what she did. It’s all on me the reason why we’re in this position right now. I take full responsibility of what happened that night. It’s never OK to hit a woman. Never. I will preach to anybody. It’s never OK. Hopefully to people around the world will learn from my mistake. I’m willing to teach.”
The people at OU speak highly of Mixon. “People better appreciate him,” offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “He’s fantastic. He’s a fantastic player. He’s a great young man. He’s one of one of most valuable flat-out players on the team because of the energy he brings. … I think Joe will be a team captain one day. He acts like one right now.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.