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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Joe Mixon

Joe Mixon Scouting Report ChristopherM01 via flickr

NFL

2017 NFL Draft: Joe Mixon Scouting Report


Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is one of the most polarizing players in the 2017 NFL draft class.  From an on-field perspective, Mixon is one of the most talented players in the class; the argument could be made that he is the top running back available, ahead of LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Furthermore here is the Joe Mixon Scouting Report for TSJ Sports.

Mixon is no surefire thing to be drafted at all despite his on-field abilities.  Mixon had a run-in with the law after getting caught on tape punching a woman in the face.  Since the incident, Mixon has kept his nose fairly clean, but with today’s societal landscape, teams can’t be too careful.

Mixon is going to have to prove to teams that drafting him is worth the PR nightmare that will take place when he is inevitably added to a team.  While I can’t speak for what teams thought in their interviews with him, I can tell you what I see on the field.

Scouting Report

Joe Mixon is the definition of an athletic freak. Standing at 6’1″ 228 lbs, Mixon ran the 40 yard dash in 4.43 seconds at his pro day.  Mixon’s 40 time would have been 4th best among running backs who attended the NFL Scouting Combine. Of those top 4 performers, Mixon was the heaviest by about 20 pounds.

Mixon has very good vision that can be attributed to his very good instincts and mental processing skills.  He shows tremendous patience at the line of scrimmage and manipulates defenders with quick movements to open up a hole for himself.  His ability to quickly bounce his runs to the outside when he doesn’t like what opens up in the middle of the field is second only to Cook in this draft class.

Mixon’s burst is excellent for a man of his size.  He has an explosive ability to stop and start that he utilizes extremely well when hitting the hole.  He shows the ability to get skinny in the hole and then accelerate quickly and pick up yards.  Generally, his level of burst is reserved for much smaller running backs.  He showcases his vision and burst in the plays below.

Mixon has exceptional balance and shows the his functional strength in his ability to run through arm tackles with ease and also drop his shoulder and lower the boom on would-be tacklers.  He has a good amount of wiggle and uses it to make defenders whiff on tackles; making defenders miss also has helped keep Mixon healthy and available throughout his college career.

Few running backs are as versatile as Mixon is.  Mixon’s coaches used him as a receiver out of the backfield on a regular basis.  They also called on him to line up as a wide receiver or in the slot often. He is a talented route runner who creates separation at the top of his route.  His ability to adjust to the ball in the air is unmatched among running backs in this draft class. His hands are also very reliable; he catches the ball away from his body.  He has great instincts and gets upfield rapidly, maximizing his yards after catch.

Mixon is a willing blocker in the passing game.  While he did not block often, he showed the ability to stay between rushers and his quarterback.  He is more successful against speed rushers than he is against bull rushers.

Aside from one game, Mixon avoided fumbles well throughout his career; 3 of his 6 career fumbles came in 1 game.  Mixon does tend to hold the ball loosely, but in college it never ended up hurting him all that much.

While I have gushed over Mixon’s talent, I do find a few flaws to his game.  There is a fine line between patience and hesitation; Mixon walks that line on a regular basis.  Before hitting his hole he can be indecisive and lose yardage.  In the open field, he sometimes struggles to decide what move he wants to use to shake a defender.

I have to question Mixon’s toughness in cold weather.  Mixon struggled to break arm tackles in cold weather games. He also has a weak anchor in the passing game. Mixon struggles to stand his ground when bull-rushed.

Overall, I think Mixon is the best running back in the 2017 draft class.  He is a versatile, scheme-diverse weapon who will succeed wherever he is given the opportunity to.  Mixon is a day 1 starter and will have a long and successful professional career.

Pro Comparison

New York Jets running back Matt Forte

Mixon is a bigger, more athletic version of Forte and will terrorize NFL defenses in the pass game and in the run game the way Forte has for years.

Projected Round: 2