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Joe Mixon: Will NFL Combine Snub Hurt His Draft Stock?
Did Roger Goodell help Joe Mixon out by not inviting him to the NFL Combine last week? Everyone immediately jumped to the conclusion that not being invited to the NFL Combine will hurt Mixon’s value. Normally, not being invited to the combine is a slight. It shows that the NFL doesn’t have room for you based on talent. It shows that the NFL doesn’t believe that you can play in the league. In most cases, that would be correct, but not with Mixon. I believe Roger Goodell did him a favor.
Anywhere Mixon goes, he’s going to have to answer questions about the horrible domestic abuse that was caught on video. Most of us have seen the video and it’s horrifying. That being said, in the NFL, if you have talent, you have a place in the league. Tyreek Hill is the prime example. Now, however, Mixon won’t have all the cameras on him at the NFL Combine and teams won’t be asking him those tough questions time and time again in interviews, which could be a major distraction to most prospects.
Next, Mixon will still have a pro day. The track is universally faster at Pro Days as opposed to the Combine. He’ll be running against another running back who has some pedigree and will be drafted in Samaje Perine. Perine is a different kind of back because of his size, but Mixon still gets to run next to him and show how athletic he is. He has direct competition for the draft at the same workout that scouts can use as a comparison. He’ll also get to run against Dede Westbrook. Westbrook should clock somewhere in the high 4.3’s or low 4.4’s. Mixon will probably clock somewhere in the low to mid 4.4’s based on his tape. He’ll get to run receiving drills with Westbrook as well, which will highlight how good of a receiver he is. Everything will be scripted and rehearsed to show Mixon’s strengths on the field. The truth is, Mixon doesn’t really have a lot of, if any, weaknesses on the field. He’s big, strong, fast, and is a great receiver out of the backfield. He runs the inside zone as good as any running back I’ve seen, including Zeke Elliot.
This is a distinct home field advantage for Mixon. He’ll be where he’s more comfortable in a controlled environment. He’ll have time to formulate everything he needs to say to come off as a reformed person. He’ll have extra time to train. He’ll have audiences from all 32 teams at his Pro Day, just like the Combine. He’ll have talent next to him. He’ll have teams take him off their draft board for sure, because they don’t want to deal with the PR headache, but it only takes one team to take a chance on him. Goodell was trying to send a clear message to everyone around the league that they won’t tolerate domestic abuse, even from incoming rookies. However, talent trumps everything, as we’ve seen last year from Tyreek Hill. Only time will tell with Mixon.