Jan 2, 2017; New Orleans , LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) reacts with wide receiver Jarvis Baxter (1) after scoring a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers in the second quarter of the 2017 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
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Despite his troubled past, here’s a look at five teams that could end up using their first-round pick on former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in the 2017 NFL Draft.
On paper, former Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon is considered one of the top players from the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. And rightfully so when taking a look a closer look at the numbers over the last two seasons. But a video in which Mixon was seen punching a woman in the face has made teams cautious over selecting the running back in a few weeks due to the negative backlash that would come along with the talent and potential.
Some teams have already made it clear they want absolutely nothing to do with Mixon, but that hasn’t stopped other teams from showing interest with the hope he can turn his life around, and learning from this terrible incident. The NFL has seen plenty of players do awful acts throughout their career. While there’s no way to defend Mixon’s actions, there are hopefully some teams that could hopefully direct him on the right path to help him mature as an individual.
Not to mention, some of those same teams that could help influence Mixon also happen to find themselves in need of help at the running back position. And when looking at what Mixon would bring to the table from a talent perspective, don’t be surprised if some of these teams are considering the possibility of using their first-round pick on the former Oklahoma standout a few weeks from now.
It’s no secret how much Mixon’s draft stock has skyrocketed as of late, despite his off-the-field issues. Chances are, a few teams will still consider the risk with the intention of making sure he’s committed to turning his life around. From the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Green Bay Packers, here’s a look at five teams that could end up using their first-round pick on Mixon in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Dec 11, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) runs with he ball against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 19)
After finishing the 2016 season with a 9-7 record, and falling just shy of making the playoffs, all signs point to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers becoming one of the toughest teams to beat in the NFC next year. Believe it or not, there was a time late in the regular season when the Buccaneers controlled their own playoff destiny before losing two tough games to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.
Not only did Tampa Bay’s defense step it up with a few impressive performances against some of the league’s top teams in the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs, but the offense seemed to be on the rise thanks to the duo of Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Throw the addition of DeSean Jackson in free agency to provide the Buccaneers with a legitimate deep threat, and it’s easy to see why there’s so much hype surrounding this team heading into next year.
With that being said, nobody knows what to expect from Doug Martin in the ground game after the running back was hit with a suspension that will carry over into the 2017 season. For a running back that was once considered one of the most dangerous in the league, it’s a shame to see Martin’s career hit this point, and as much as Tampa Bay wants to see him turn things around, they also no there’s no guarantee of making a future impact.
The Buccaneers have hinted at the possibility of using one of their upcoming draft picks on a running back, and as risky as it seems to add him to an offense led by a quarterback with some maturity issues himself in Winston, Joe Mixon on this offense would be dangerously scary. A running back with the talent of Mixon along with the potential surrounding the duo of Evans and Jackson would almost make Tampa Bay’s offense unstoppable, which is why it has to at least be considered an option to select the former Oklahoma star.
Dec 18, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) runs the ball as Arizona Cardinals linebacker Sio Moore (54) defends during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
4. New Orleans Saints (No. 11 and No. 32)
The good news for the New Orleans Saints is just like a few other teams in this upcoming draft, they are fortunate enough to have two first-round picks thanks to the deal that sent Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots. Of course, losing a speedy wideout like Cooks is never easy to replace, but as long as Drew Brees is calling the shots under center, the Saints offense will always have the potential to be one of the best in the league.
Mark Ingram has always proven to be a workhorse throughout his career when healthy, but the fact that 2016 marked the first time he broke the 1,000-yard mark in six seasons shows why New Orleans is considering all options at running back. Not to mention, Ingram has only started 45 of the 78 games he’s appeared in for the Saints during that time span, making it clear he still has plenty to prove when it comes to showing he’s the best option for the team in the ground game.
A young running back like Joe Mixon could work wonders for a high-powered offense like the Saints when considering he recorded 2,921 yards from the line of scrimmage to go along with 26 total touchdowns over the last two years with the Sooners. New Orleans is a team in need of help for another running back to play alongside Ingram now that Tim Hightower is a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Even though the team has two picks in the first round, chances are Mixon will be off the board by the time the 32nd pick rolls around.
Jan 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans strong safety Quintin Demps (27) and Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) in action during the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
3. Oakland Raiders (No. 24)
With all of the drama surrounding the announcement of the team’s move to Las Vegas, at least the Oakland Raiders should feel confident about their chances of being top contenders in the AFC once again, assuming all goes well with Derek Carr‘s recovery process. It’s tough not to feel sorry for Oakland fans when seeing how many losing seasons went through before last year, only to watch their beloved team make the questionable decision to move to Las Vegas.
Thanks to Carr’s MVP type of season, the Raiders became one of the biggest surprises from the 2016 season after finishing with a 12-4 record to earn a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Of course, the argument will always be made that Oakland could have advanced further if Carr was healthy, but the only thing the team can do moving forward is to make sure last year’s success carries over into 2017.
Luckily for Carr, the Raiders have provided him with two of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but the team still needs help in the ground game. Now that Latavius Murray is a member of the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland finds themselves in need of even more help in the ground game, and with the 24th pick in the first round, running back has to at least be considered a possible option.
Just like the New Orleans Saints, the addition of a talented running back like Joe Mixon would make the high-powered offense of the Raiders even more dangerous for opponents to deal with. Not to mention a reliable running back like Mixon would hopefully take some of the pressure off Carr when it comes to running the offense for Oakland.
January 7, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell watches game action against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
2. Detroit Lions (No. 21)
Just how bad was the ground game for the Detroit Lions during the 2016 season? Well, despite finding a way to earn one of the Wild Card spots in the NFC, the fact that Theo Riddick led the Lions with only 357 rushing yards in 10 games shows how desperate the Lions are for help at running back heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.
There’s no question it was impressive to watch Detroit make a playoff run thanks to the leadership of Matthew Stafford, but there’s only so much the veteran quarterback can do on his own without the proper help in the backfield. For a team that many expected to take a step back last year following the surprise retirement of Calvin Johnson, the Lions were the last team anyone expected to earn a spot in the playoffs, and now expectations will be even higher heading into the 2017 season.
Thanks to an early exit in the postseason, Detroit will have the 21st overall pick in this year’s draft, and when seeing how much of an issue the ground game has been over the years, the team knows it would be tough to pass on Joe Mixon if given the opportunity. Despite his controversial issues off the field, the Lions seem like a team that would be willing to take a risk, and would hope to be part of helping Mixon turn his life around by helping him mature as an individual with the intention of having a successful NFL career.
Jan 15, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery (88) runs with the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
1. Green Bay Packers (No. 29)
Speaking of teams that managed to find success despite a lack of running game, watching Aaron Rodgers lead the Green Bay Packers all the way to the NFC Championship last season was simply amazing to witness. Once again, Rodgers showed the NFL why he will eventually go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but luckily the Packers are smart enough to realize they can’t afford to let that happen again in 2017.
With Eddie Lacy officially out of the picture, there’s a good chance Green Bay will heavily rely on Ty Montgomery even more in the ground game, but the team has already shown interest in Joe Mixon, and even brought the controversial running back in for a visit before the draft. The Packers’ offense was already considered one of the best in the league thanks to Rodgers, and if the team were to land Mixon in the first round at No. 29, one can only imagine what would be in store for Mike McCarthy‘s unit if the former Oklahoma running back lived up to the hype.
As mentioned before, if it wasn’t for Mixon’s issues off the field, he would have been a no brainer for a good amount of teams in need of help at running back in the first round. Adrian Peterson will most likely continue to be linked to Green Bay unless he finds a home elsewhere, but even with the former Minnesota Vikings running back available, the Packers should have their eyes set on landing Mixon if he’s still available that late in the first round.