How a general manager views Joe Mixon depends on which of two videos he considers the more important. If it’s the one where the former Oklahoma star punches a young woman in the jaw, then he won’t even consider selecting the running back in the upcoming draft. If it’s the one where the 228-pounder runs through and away from would-be tacklers and catches the ball like a wide receiver, then that GM might be in position later this month to get an all-time steal.
I have no idea how Ted Thompson feels about Mixon, but the fact he brought him in for a visit recently suggests he hasn’t completely dismissed the idea of making the 20-year-old a Packer. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that possibility. On the one hand, what Mixon did was repugnant.
On the other hand, everyone deserves a second chance, and hey, it’s not like I’m going to have to spend time with the guy. But I am sure of one thing – this young man is one heck of a player. In fact, I’m having a really difficult time recalling any college running back who was as perfect a fit in the Mike McCarthy offense.
As far as what McCarthy likes to do, Mixon checks off every box. He can run, catch and block. He reminds me in many ways of Ahman Green. I know that’s quite a thing to say, but that’s how impressive Mixon looks on tape.
As a runner, Mixon has the strength to break tackles and the speed to go the distance every time he touches the ball. The Packers haven’t had a weapon like that since Green in the early 2000s. As a receiver, he might be a more natural pass catcher than Ty Montgomery. He runs excellent routes and adjusts well to the ball. And as a blocker, he uses toughness and technique to consistently keep blitzers away from the quarterback.
The worst thing I can say about Mixon the player is he tends to dance a bit too much in the backfield. That leads to some negative plays. And while his vision doesn’t always appear to be 20/20, it’s not as if he needs glasses.
Simply put, Mixon is a first-round talent who almost certainly won’t be drafted that high due to very legitimate concerns about his off-the-field behavior. If he’s still there when Green Bay selects at 61, Thompson will have a difficult choice to make. There’s not a doubt in my mind that Mixon would be the best player on the board, but because of that horrifying video from 2014, being the best player might not matter.
I’ve studied Thompson for over 12 years, and I still have a difficult time figuring the guy out when it comes to what he’s willing to tolerate from a player. Character obviously matters to him, and yet he’s held onto defensive lineman Letroy Guion through an arrest and multiple suspensions. He also didn’t sever ties with outside linebacker Erik Walden after he was charged with domestic abuse in 2011. But he had a history with both of those players. He has no history with Mixon. Then again, if he wants to make history (a.k.a. win another Super Bowl) before he retires, rolling the dice on a game-changing running back might be the way to go.