Joe Mixon's Rehab Effort Is Working
In a recent meeting with an NFL franchise, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon was asked a simple question: Why did you do it?
Mixon's answer, a team official told Bleacher Report, was contemplative and thoughtful. And while the official wouldn't tell B/R exactly what Mixon said, he felt Mixon's answer was sincere.
Mixon's willingness in recent weeks to address the character issues that have swirled around him after he was caught on video punching a woman in the face has transformed his image, according to that team official. Not just within that team, but around much of the league.
Indeed, people around the NFL now tell me Mixon is moving up draft boards.
It's long been believed that Mixon, like Ray Rice, would suffer because his assault was caught on video, and that video would embarrass any team that drafted him. Thus, he either wouldn't be drafted or he'd be selected late. Several team officials say at least four franchises have removed Mixon from their draft boards.
But the narrative around Mixon seems to be changing.
Now, remember the first and only rule of Draft Club: Everyone lies about Draft Club. So if team officials say Mixon's draft stock is rising, well, it may not be.
But in this case, I believe Mixon's rise is accurate. He seems to be impressing teams with his sincerity. Teams that once feared taking him are no longer as scared to do so.
Not only is his draft stock improving, but some teams say no player is moving up draft boards faster than Mixon.
Apparently he's checking every box as he meets with various franchises.
Mixon might now go as high as the second round. Some even believe the late first round is in play. (Still, remember the first rule of Draft Club.)
There are still teams who are highly uncomfortable with Mixon being drafted at all, let alone in higher rounds. Some of these teams are outraged by the idea of a team selecting a player who hit a woman. No one is saying he shouldn't be allowed to play in the NFL. They just don't want him drafted.
The league office is watching this situation closely. They may deny this, but based on interviews I've done, the NFL doesn't want Mixon drafted either, feeling it would undermine the league's efforts to curb violence against women.
To some in football, what happens with Mixon is a test. Rice was once a line—a video line—few in the NFL thought would ever be crossed again. No one thought a player caught committing an act of violence on video would ever have a career in football.
It's possible Mixon may move that line.