Buccaneers Draft Watch: Is Joe Mixon Untouchable?

Jan 2, 2017; New Orleans , LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) runs the ball against Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) in the third quarter of the 2017 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2017; New Orleans , LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) runs the ball against Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) in the third quarter of the 2017 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

Joe Mixon is one of the top talents at running back in this upcoming draft. Would the Buccaneers be willing to take the risk?

Every draft season we see these kinds of players. Polarizing young men with immense talent who display red flags for character issues. The Buccaneers themselves spent the number one overall pick on one of those players in Jameis Winston, but not without an intensive and thorough research process. This year, Joe Mixon seems to be that player.

The running back from Oklahoma made some headlines when a video surfaced of him punching a female, knocking her out cold in 2014. The surveillance video was released by Mixon’s lawyers, giving context to the ugly incident. The girl he hit had four broken bones as a result of the hit.

Now is where things get somewhat difficult.

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First off, it’s not okay for a male to hit a female. Especially a male who is a football player and has that level of strength. This was an incident where you have a 17 or 18 year old kid who found himself making a bad decision based on sheer emotion without thinking before he acted. Mixon apologized and claimed that he was hit and had racial slurs said to him by this young lady – likely the same age.

Now, that doesn’t excuse his actions but to play devil’s advocate, the video doesn’t tell the whole story and there aren’t many people who can have racial slurs and comments thrown their way in addition to being hit, slapped, or shoved and they not lose their cool. Again, doesn’t make what he did right by any means, but what does it mean in the long run?

Jason Licht has stressed in the past that when it comes to vetting players, they want to determine if flags like this one are isolated incidents, where a kid made a bad, immature decision and it’s going to be left at that? Or, is is that this kid has serious character concerns? That’s where the extensive hours spent interviewing people who’ve known the player all the way back to pee-wee football comes in to play. The Buccaneers are not going to draft anyone they haven’t done their homework on.

There are some that won’t want Mixon ever based on this incident. Then, there are others who feel he served his punishment, faced the legal process, and he deserves a second chance. Neither one is wrong. That’s just ingrained in their beliefs.

Now, should the Buccaneers do their homework and decide that Mixon is a player they feel made a bad decision in an isolated incident and they want him to be part of the team’s future, what kind of player are they going to try to get? A damn good one, that’s for sure.

Mixon, a red-shirt sophomore, is 6’1″, 225-lbs and is arguably the most electric and talented running back in this class. I know the Dalvin Cook mob won’t agree, but that’s neither here nor there. Mixon is versatile, has breakaway speed, and simply outstanding vision.

Bottom line: he’s a game changer in every sense of the term.

Take this for example. His vision and burst allowed for a huge gain for the Sooners;

A running back that can move like that is not something the Bucs had the pleasure of utilizing last season. Jacquizz Rodgers was serviceable, but not a feature back by any means. Take a look at Mixon’s breakaway speed. This is something that will not only be enormously beneficial in the run game, but in the pass game. Mixon is certainly capable of catching the ball out of the backfield and taking it to the house.

And finally, the vision. Mixon’s vision is outstanding. I’m not the type that is going to compare him to current NFL running backs. That being said, not many backs in the league have the vision and wherewithal to come to a complete stop then go full speed in one to two steps.

There’s no doubt Joe Mixon would be an amazing addition to the Buccaneers on the field and one that will likely be available in day two due to the character concerns. He said he was told to have a first round grade, but the way teams value the running back position in the draft mixed with the character issues means Mixon will very likely be a day two pick. That video, however, is still incredibly disturbing and causes anyone to think twice whether or not he should even be drafted at all.

Again, there will be people who feel Mixon is untouchable. That his transgression makes him undraftable. Then there will be those that feel he served his time. At the end of the day, if the Buccaneers take him, I fully trust Jason Licht and his ability to do his groundwork and research on a player. So if Mixon is the guy, we’ll know that whatever Licht and his team uncovered and learned about the kid made them comfortable enough to draft him.

Next: Scouting Report: Dede Westbrook, WR - Oklahoma

I mean, Licht did the same for Winston and that turned out pretty well, right?

Gifs were created courtesy of draftbreakdown.com