The 2017 NFL Draft is only getting closer, and debatably the most controversial prospect coming into it is none other than Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. After being caught on tape assaulting his then-girlfriend during his freshman year at Oklahoma, as well as also being previously accused of a similar assault case from his days back in high school, a majority of NFL franchises are considering passing on Mixon.
With that, will Mixon go undrafted? Certainly not. There will be a franchise that bets on him as their future running back, but the bigger question is who it will be. Here are five strong fits for where Mixon would blend well in:
5. Oakland Raiders (Current Starting RB: DeAndre Washington)
After losing Latavius Murray to the Minnesota Vikings, the Oakland Raiders have had their eyes set on Marshawn Lynch, and are very close to striking a deal. With that, the only way Lynch can become eligible to play is if the Raiders and Seahawks come to alike terms, considering Lynch is currently under contract with the Seahawks.
If the potential deal for Lynch to play in his hometown falls through, then there’s a great chance that the Raiders will be looking to draft a running back in the upcoming draft. Mixon is an undeniable talent, and even with Lynch on the roster, Mixon could learn a lot and gain reps throughout the 2017 season.
4. Minnesota Vikings (Current Starting RB: Latavius Murray)
Head Coach Mike Zimmer has gone on record to show praise for Mixon’s game, and it’s entirely possible that the Vikings roll the dice on the twenty-year old. Yes, the franchise recently signed Latavius Murray, but there is an option within his contract that allows the Vikings to cut ties with him after one season of play.
In case Murray doesn’t preform to the Vikings satisfaction, why not draft Mixon in the second round with the 48th overall pick for insurance? The system played within Oklahoma is very similar to the one played in Minnesota, and my assumption would be that Mixon is viewed as one of the two best running backs (talent-wise) for a majority of these teams. With Fournette viewed as an early first-round selection, why not snag someone who is a close second?
3. Philadelphia Eagles (Current Starting RB: Ryan Mathews/Darren Sproles)
The Eagles are notorious for splitting their carries amongst running backs, so why not add Mixon into the forumla? Both Mathews and Sproles are in the last year of their contracts, and neither have necessarily fulfilled the role of a reliable starting running back.
If Mixon gets the opportunity to receive reps as a starting running back in Philadelphia, he could be the piece that allows the franchise to contend once again in the NFC East. In 2016, the Eagles ranked eleventh in rushing yards per game (113.3), but with Mixon on the active roster, they could easily surpass themselves into the top ten for 2017.
2. New Orleans Saints (Current Starting RB: Mark Ingram)
Ingram is another veteran mentioned that is close to the end of his contract, as he contains the opportunity to opt-out of his after the 2017 season. The franchise has been seen meeting with Mixon on at least two occasions so far, and have noted that it was a “good week” during one of his visits. While that may not mean much, there seems to be no sign of the Saints closing the door on Mixon.
If Mixon gets brought into New Orleans, I believe he has the chance to be a better running back than Ingram as a starter over time. If he is what the Saints hope for him to be, the pressure of Drew Brees throwing 30+ attempts per game suddenly goes away, allowing success to potentially happen within Louisiana.
1. Cincinnati Bengals (Current Starting RB: Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard)
Another time-sharing franchise makes the list, even though Mixon could be the sole provider of carries for the Bengals in 2018. Both Hill and Bernard are on the last year of their contracts, and no talks have emerged in terms of extensions so far.
The Bengals will pick before any of the other franchises mentioned in the second round of the NFL Draft, as they contain the 41st overall pick. Could one of these franchises select Mixon in the first round? Absolutely, but how many times have we seen a player with Mixon’s reputation and baggage be gambled on so early?
If the Bengals are smart, they will stash Mixon in the second round of the draft, and they should slowly ease him into the active roster throughout the 2017 season.
Do you agree? Disagree? Voice your opinion and let us know!
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