Joe Mixon is easily the most polarizing player available in this year’s NFL draft. Blessed with dynamic football traits, he also comes with an incredible amount of off-field baggage.
One team will have to look past the video of him assaulting a female college student in 2014 in order to use a coveted draft pick on the running back.
The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins have already reportedly taken Mixon off their draft boards and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has spoken out against domestic violence. Many teams will consider Mixon undraftable, yet others are reportedly considering him a late third-round draft pick.
That begs the question, which teams are in the running for Mixon’s services?
Here are three realistic possibilities:
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The Lions have been searching for a reliable running back since Barry Sanders retired. In the following seasons, Detroit has trotted out the likes of Greg Hill, James Stewart, Shawn Bryson, Kevin Jones, Kevin Smith, Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, and Ameer Abdullah to be its lead back, all to minimal returns.
The Lions could end that search with one draft pick. By all accounts, Mixon is one of the best talents available.
Team general manager Bob Quinn expressed disappointment that Mixon wasn’t invited to the scouting combine at the end of February. He also admitted the player would remain on the team’s draft board. For good reason. Mixon could instantly improve the Lions’ 30th-ranked running game.
Detroit owns the 21st pick in the third round of the draft. Is that late enough to be considered a team at the “end of Round 3”?
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Among the teams that met privately with Mixon before his pro day were the Cleveland Browns.
On the heels of a season that nearly ended without a victory, the Browns own the first pick in the draft and a multitude of needs on their roster. Running back remains one of them.
The Browns are one of the few teams that can ill afford to pass up a dynamic talent due to character concerns. Their vice president of football operations said as much on the subject of suspended receiver Josh Gordon. If there is a player available that can expedite the team’s lengthy rebuilding process, they need to take him.
Duke Johnson was allowed an opportunity to take the top job and run with it, but Isaiah Crowell finished the year with the lead role. Is he considered a long-term answer, however?
The Browns own the top pick in the fourth round. They just may need to trade back into the back end of the third to get Mixon.
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The Bengals own one of the more productive running tandems in the game with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. They also own perhaps the best environment for players with shoddy pasts.
Owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis are no strangers to reclamation projects. They’ve housed a number of habitual line-crossers and provided them with an opportunity to remain employed in the National Football League. Among them are current Bengals Adam “Pacman” Jones and Vontaze Burfict.
On the Bengals, there’s little question Mixon would fit right in under the direction of Brown and Lewis. He’d also add another weapon to a Bengals offense that’s lost a lot of talent over the last two seasons.
If there’s a perfect pairing for Mixon, Cincinnati just might be it.
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