Mixon was ranked as the top running back recruit in the country
in 2014 - one spot ahead of Dalvin Cook - but his college career
nearly ended before it even got started. In a
story that has been well-chronicled, the California native and
some of his teammates reportedly started harassing a female student
at a café near the university. Mixon and the female student
eventually started arguing and after taking a slap from the student
for a comment/comments he made about her friend, Mixon punched her
in the face; the punch was powerful enough to fracture four bones.
The incident, which took place on July 25, 2014, resulted in Mixon
receiving a one-year suspension from the football team as well as
a few other legal punishments/commitments.
On the field, Mixon began to make a name for himself after being
reinstated in 2015, totaling 1,109 total yards and 11 touchdowns
on 141 offensive touches, immediately showing off his big-play
ability in his first game when he broke loose for a 76-yard TD
reception - the longest catch ever by an Oklahoma freshman running
back. He finished his freshman year as the team's second-leading
rusher (753) behind Samaje Perine (1,349). Mixon essentially split
carries with Perine in 2016, but that didn't stop him from overshadowing
his teammate, as the former outgained the latter on the ground
by 214 yards despite nine fewer carries and finished second on
the team in receptions (37). Among the many notable achievements
during his sophomore campaign, Mixon became one of only two FBS
players since 1996 with three receiving TDs and two rushing scores
in one game AND the first player in Oklahoma history to log 200
yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game when he
shredded Texas Tech in a contest Perine missed due to injury.
Two weeks later, Mixon earned himself a one-game suspension after
an incident with an officer in which he received a parking citation,
tore it up and threw the pieces of the citation in the officer's
face before getting in his vehicle and eventually trying to intimidate
the officer with the vehicle. Mixon returned the following week
and played the final four games of the season without any further
issues, and he ended the season trailing only Christian McCaffrey
for the FBS lead in all-purpose yards per game (195.6).
High-end NFL Player Comp(s):David Johnson Low-end NFL Player Comp(s):
Best Scheme Fit: An offense
willing to be creative, play matchups and/or believes in one-back
sets. Mixon may evolve into a runner who is willing to follow
his fullback into the hole, but there is no evidence of that yet
simply because Oklahoma didn't give him that chance. He has the
patience to be successful in a one-cut zone-running system, but
he might be risky in a power-based scheme. Note: All times listed in parentheses
in strengths/weaknesses section reflect the start time on video
- via Draft Breakdown - that displays that skill/trait.
Effortless pass-catcher (0:15,
with unique ball skills for a running back (3:43,
and a solid route-runner (3:16)
who can be flexed all over the formation to serve as mismatch
for linebackers in coverage. (0:14,
Above-average balance (1:53)
with the feet to string multiple moves together. (1:06,
Usually waits to set up his blocks (1:29,
and shows a second gear when he senses he is in the clear (5:06,
ranked tied for first among FBS running backs in 2016 with 26
scrimmage plays of 20-plus yards and first with 15 scrimmage
plays of 30-plus yards.
Not afraid to run inside despite obvious elusiveness on the
perimeter; can be special when he gets a runway. (2:57,
Doesn't always utilize the soundest technique but generally
gets the job done in pass pro. (1:27,
Enters the league with very little wear-and-tear (300 career
carries, 65 receptions) and provides versatility as kick returner.
Aforementioned off-field history.
Average vision (5:27),
which can cause him to miss backside cuts, particularly on stretch
Occasionally dances in the backfield when the play calls for
him to run straight ahead. (4:18)
Inconsistent inside runner who doesn't always pick up yards
after contact most would expect a back his size to do. (1:10,
Fumbled on 2.2 percent on offensive touches in 2016, career
fumble percentage (1.6) still about twice as high as evaluators
Ran almost exclusively out of the shotgun in college.
Let's address the elephant in the room right away: Mixon made
a very bad decision as an 18-year-old which will almost assuredly
follow him for at least the early part of his NFL career, if not
beyond. To his credit, he worked his way back to earn the trust
of the Oklahoma coaching staff after serving the one-year suspension
for the incident and became a team leader in his final two seasons
by most accounts. By no means does it erase what he did, but it
speaks to the possibility he may have learned a lesson and just
how hot the spotlight can be.
Regarding his on-field exploits, keep in mind Mixon is only a
20-year-old back coming out of a pure spread offense who has missed
an entire season of football. In other words, there is a very
good chance he has not fully developed into the runner he will
eventually become. Considering he had only 365 offensive touches
in his two seasons as a Sooner, it is quite possible that will
prove to be the case. There is also something else to consider:
think about how good a player has to be in order for a coaching
staff to give more work to a back like Mixon this season than
his teammate (Perine) who broke the FBS single-game rushing record
as a freshman two years earlier and finished his career running
for over 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons.
At this point, Mixon is undoubtedly an all-purpose threat and
a big play waiting to happen. Whereas the Sooners failed him in
terms of showing whether or not he could be a truly disciplined
runner, they did a fine job of accentuating just how dynamic he
is in the passing game. Given his overall body of work - or lack
thereof - and the aforementioned character issues, he should be
considered no better than the No. 4 overall back in this class
- even if he rivals Leonard Fournette and Cook in terms of talent.
Fournette, Cook and McCaffrey each assumed workhorse roles at
their respective programs, while Mixon did not (granted Perine
had something to do with that). With his off-field history thrown
into the mix, it's little wonder why he will likely not be a first-round
selection. He does possess special upside, however, and the Johnson
comparison above isn't as much of a stretch as some might believe,
especially for a 225-pound young man who has the feet and hips
of a player roughly 15-20 pounds lighter (like Johnson).
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.