Mixon is one of the most controversial prospects in recent draft history, but, the Bengals felt strongly enough about him to leave his past in the past and take a risk by selecting him with the No. 48 overall selection.
Many teams (reportedly all but four) had taken Mixon off their draft board due to a 2014 incident in which he punched a female Oklahoma student in the face. Mixon reached an Alford plea on a misdemeanor assault charge after the incident and was suspended for the entirety of the 2014 football season. The Alford plea allows him to maintain his innocence while admitting the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him. He received a one-year deferred sentence, 100 hours of community service, and mandated behavioral counseling. More than two years later in December 2016, video was released showing Mixon punching the woman in the face, which stirred up the controversy. On the Friday before the draft, Mixon and the woman, Amelia Molitor, released statements indicating they were both ready to move on and had settled the lawsuit Molitor had filed for intentional infliction of emotional stress. You can read a full timeline of Mixon’s history in Oklahoma here.
So, what did NFL scouts think about Mixon as an NFL prospect? The Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn had NFL scouts weigh in on the top running back prospects, and Mixon was ranked fourth on the list, considering both his talent and baggage.
4. JOE MIXON, Oklahoma
1. “He’s my best back – by far,” said one scout. “He’s Adrian Peterson who returns kicks. Great receiver, not a good receiver. He can line up wide or as a slot. He’s a bigger, better Ezekiel Elliott. He can do more.”
2. “Someone who is succeeding with his style is the guy in Arizona (David Johnson),” said another scout. “This kid has power and speed, and he is really a quality receiver. He’s the type of guy you can leave on the field in pretty much any situation.”
3. “Pass protection is an area he will need to continue working on,” a third scout said. “It’s not from a lack of trying. Just technique. He’s a big, strong dude. He can do it.” From Oakley, Calif.
McGinn actually spoke to 10 NFL executives, too, regarding the decision to select Mixon. Their thoughts were more negative. Eight executives of the 10 said he was off their teams’ boards, one said he’d draft him and one didn’t give an answer.
“If your owner signs off on it then you go ahead and take him. We’re definitely not going down that road,” one NFC executive said. “Whether you take him in the first or the seventh, either you’re making a stand or you’re not. It’s not like some other incidents where drugs or this and that (affect) the value and the round. To me, this is you’re yes or no for him.”