[#FilmWithFive] Prospect Preview: RB Joe Mixon

Okay, so, I wasn’t going to type this “disclaimer” of sorts because I honestly feel that this should all go without saying. But, here we are nevertheless:

Nobody with even half a heart, or half a brain, or some combination of the two, is going to be okay with what this young man was involved in off the field. I, much like everyone else, has their own opinion on the matter, and how things are being handled going forward, and all those details that I don’t care to dive into because again, at the end of the day, it is wrong. Period.

With that said, and as I’ve stated prior (a few times now), we can separate the two (on and off the field), and look at Joe Mixon the football player playing football on the football field.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do today.

Before we jump into the tape, let me also just say that I didn’t think I’d even be writing about Joe Mixon this offseason. Not only that, I didn’t think I’d be writing about Joe Mixon and the possibility of him landing with the Raiders. We all know Mark Davis’s very public stance on violence against women – domestic or otherwise – so I think it was fair to completely cross Mixon off the Raiders’ draft board as soon as the news broke.

As we get closer to the draft, agents are pushing their client’s draft stock. It’s #lyingseason. Let’s play along anyway. Could Joe Mixon be in play for Oakland as early as 24 overall?

Adam Caplan of ESPN on the Raiders/Mixon meeting.

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report with more of the same.

Mel Kiper Jr. on landing spots that make sense.

Eric Edholm (Yahoo) discussing possible fits.

This can’t all be coincidence, right? The simple fact that the Raiders have gone “out of their way” to meet with this kid, to me, says something.

In the end, it’s completely fair to suggest that all of this amounts to nothing, and the Raiders (or more notably, Mark Davis) pass on a player like Joe Mixon. But for me, currently, I’m intrigued by the speculation. I think it’s at least worth monitoring, as all this is completely out of the norm for Mark’s team.

Oh, and just to stir the pot even more, here’s Oakland’s own Marshawn Lynch, spotted at Mixon’s camp:

One more for the road. This is Reggie McKenzie’s younger son and current Trojan-commit Jalen, also on-hand for the camp:

There’s definitely dots to be connected here, even if they trail-off in the end.

Let’s just say that Mixon is the selection, right?

The soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders call Joe Mixon’s name at some point within the first two rounds.

What kind of player is Reggie McKenzie investing in? What is this team getting? Is it worth the media-storm and public relation’s headache that is (likely) to follow?

I’m glad you asked.

Joe Mixon was a former five star recruit, the 21st best player in the country, part of a vaunted 2014 class that boasted names like Nick Chubb, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Sony Michel, and Bo Scarborough, just to name a few other backs.

You throw on the tape, then and now, and you immediately understand.

Joe Mixon looks the part, plays the part, and even tested like the part.

Big Play Ability

When you’re built like Joe Mixon, able to move the way he does for a back his size – in addition to the pass-catching ability – he’s able to hit a home run at any given time. Taking a routine two or three yard gain to the house is normal for Joe. These big plays get backs drafted high. Mixon’s a natural playmaker, and how he goes about his business easily translates to the next level. Before we take a look at some of these plays, it’s fair to note that his “home run, or go home” mentality is his undoing at times. More on that later, however.

Mixon against Big 12 defenses. Advantage: Joe.

All about the feet…

This is the one facet of his game that I had noted more than anything when watching Mixon play. He has incredible cut-back ability, effortlessly weaving in and out of traffic, setting up that aforementioned home run ball. Joe Mixon wins with his feet. Feet that are on the same level as a runner like Le’Veon Bell or Christian McCaffrey, and perhaps even better?

One cut and finding all the yards afterward.

Couple cuts here, with some decisive steps (also noteworthy for reasons to be discussed later). Vision working here.

Hey, Big 12 defenses again. Check the jump to get outside followed by the breakaway speed. Linebackers will struggle at the next level, too.

The subtle jab here allows him to grab the 1st with ease.

Some open field work now. This is where a certain starting running back who now plays for a team in Minnesota left a lot to desired. Mixon’s really fluid here however, and routinely creates for himself.

Little bit of everything. Patiently waiting for the crease, cut quick, and that burst – home run.

Receiving

Christian McCaffrey has the best pair of hands on a running back in this class. He might have the best pair of hands regardless of position. Heck, he has the best pair of paws that I’ve ever seen on a running back. He’s a natural (good genes, I guess). Joe Mixon isn’t very far off. What’s more, is his ability when split out wide, and understanding of route concepts. He’s ultra-smooth for a full-time running back. Mr. Evan Silva of Rotoworld believes Mixon could be a starting wide receiver, in fact. I tend to agree. Much like McCaffrey, those hands will keep a back on the field for all three downs.

No “body catches” over here.

Fake hand-off, screen, and then Big 12 defenses. Really fun combination. In all seriousness, you see where the size comes into play as he easily shakes off multiple defenders. Mixon’s fun after the catch.

Hands, stiff-arm, topped off with the righteous balance. This all translates.

Dialed-up out of the slot.

Nifty route, working the LB.

Showing off with the one-handed grab.

Again, my favorite: out of the slot. Drawing the PI. That’ll work.

Wheel route wizard.

One-hand, burst – you know the rest.

Okay, okay. Last one. This is too easy.

Patience

I wouldn’t say Mixon has McCaffrey-level patience, but it is still Le’Veon-ish, if that makes sense. This is a useful trait to possess as a runner and not many – college, pro, or otherwise – are able to run in this manner. While McCaffrey excels as a patient runner, using it to leverage his size, Mixon tends to get a little too “lazy” at times. It’s definitely frustrating, especially when you see him put it all together on the next play or series.

Here he is, putting it all together:

Vision

Another category where Mixon stood out, but I’m more than comfortable giving the crown to Christian McCaffrey. That’s not necessarily a knock on Mixon, but just something to take into consideration when trying to rank these prospects. While it’s an area that Mixon could clean up a bit, it’s certainly not something that’s going to “hold him back” in the league. I do think it’s notable in the sense that landing spot perhaps matters a bit more for a player like Joe Mixon vs. Christian McCaffrey. Having the luxury behind an offensive line built like Oakland’s could/should do wonders for Mixon initially, whereas I think McCaffrey’s more plug-and-play in any environment.

Those feet on display again.

Can he be the power back?

Both Jack and Reggie have gone on record, recently, and suggested/hinted at the possibility (and desire) of adding a “big back” in order to compliment what they already have on the roster. While this is an obvious hit to me personally, and my love for Christian McCaffrey (on paper; talent will always win out, my pals), it’s reasonable to think that Joe Mixon could fill that role. At 6’1″, 228, as noted above, his height/weight is ideal (and where folks will draw those Le’Veon parallels once more).

Up the middle, goal line work.

And on the outside, lowering his shoulder:

To the defender’s credit here, he definitely has momentum working with him:

Areas of Improvement

Decisiveness — As touched on earlier, Mixon’s always looking for the home run ball. While he hits his fair share, at times, we find Joe dancing behind the line of scrimmage, simply doing too much. Other than the size, this is the difference between a runner like Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon. On paper, two very similar styles. The more and more you watch, you come away appreciating just how awesome McCaffrey’s vision is. Mixon has an excellent foundation in place, I’d like to see him use those quick feet to get through the hole more efficiently.

Play Big — We just talked about the possibility of Mixon filling that “big back” spot that this team and fan base alike desperately wants. He’s certainly capable, but just like the decisiveness/vision, it’s just something I’d like to see him do more often. Mixon needs to play like a 228 pound back on every snap.

Pass Protection — Goes back to the size thing, and playing to your weight.

Here’s Joe getting involved:

It’s obvious that his frame lends itself to pass protection situations, when called on. Coming into the league, it’s an area he’ll need to improve on (as a majority of runners do).

Final Thoughts

This is a relatively easy evaluation. Obviously the off-field incident(s) and character concerns that go along with said incidents make for a tough decision for any front office.

As noted earlier, the Raiders’ are being thrown into the ring as one of the franchises that would be able to handle the media and general “backlash” that would come with a selection like this. That locker room is as sturdy as they come. With players (men, high-character leaders) like Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, and coaches like Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. (we get on Ken from an X’s and O’s standpoint but his rapport with players is well-documented), the Raiders are suddenly an “ideal landing spot” for these “types” of players. How far we’ve come.

Couple all that with the Las Vegas news, this is now suddenly a team in flux. If there was ever a time to shake things up, here’s the window. Oakland has been one of the few franchises that have stood firm, and adamantly opposed any sort of domestic violence-type altercations. That’s beyond admirable. Despite all the news and rumors, I would still be shocked if Raiders’ owner Mark Davis signed off on this selection in the end. But, as things stand currently, there’s just too much working in the other direction to ignore the possibility.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive

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