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2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Joe Mixon, Running Back, Oklahoma

We take a look at one of the top running back prospects in the upcoming draft.

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Auburn v Oklahoma Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, we at Mile High Report will be scouting some of the top prospects that Denver could potentially draft, or has met with.

News came yesterday that the Broncos met with Running Back, Joe Mixon. In his report yesterday, Scotty already touched on the off-the-field issues Mixon brings. I do not intend to do that as I cannot speak to his character nor can I speak to the details surrounding his incident. I’ll leave that to John Elway and Joe Ellis, to do their due diligence and make that decision.

What I can speak to is his performance on the field. I am an Oklahoma Sooner fan and have watched Mixon throughout his career at OU. So that is what I’ll be breaking down today in his scouting report.

Joe Mixon

Running Back, RS Sophomore, Oklahoma

Height: 6'1" Weight: 226lbs Hands: 10 1/4”

40 time: 4.43 Bench Press: 21 reps Vertical Jump: 35”

Broad Jump: 118 inches 3 Cone Drill: 7.00

Here are the numbers for the top backs at the combine for comparison.

Mixon was not invited to the NFL Combine so all the numbers are from his Pro Day at Oklahoma.

His 4.43 40 yard dash time was the fastest among all the top running backs, and would have ranked 4th among all backs at the combine. He is also larger than all the backs above, except for Fournette.

His broad and vertical jumps are both well below McCaffrey and Kamara.

Film Room

In the Sugar Bowl against Auburn (first video), he finished with 19 rushes for 91 yards and 2 TDs, while catching 5 passes for 89 yards. The impressive part was that the Sooners’ other back, Samaje Perine was hurt for much of the game and so the bulk of the rushing load fell on Mixon. He showed that he could be an every down, in between the tackles back. Additionally, this came against one of the toughest defenses that OU had faced all season.

The Texas Tech game (3rd video) was just an absolute shoot out and with Perine again out with injury, Mixon was asked to shoulder the bulk of the workload and he did so with career best numbers. He racked up 377 total yards (263 rushing, 114 receiving) on 31 carries and 4 catches. He averaged 10.7 yards per touch and scored 5 TDs.

Although I’ll show a few highlights, the best way to look at a prospect is by watching their entire games like the ones posted above. For more full games of Joe Mixon, check out Draft Breakdown.

Scouting Report

This is a collection of insights from scouting reports around the web, as well as my own thoughts.


Outstanding burst to go from first level to third level. Goes from glide to burst quickly and can hit chunk plays between tackles and around corners. Can go from elusive to banger when he needs to. Will drop the pads and drive through tacklers in short yardage spots. Flashy feet for his size. Can jump-cut around defenders in tight quarters. Smooth hips help him swivel around the second and third levels. Able to show and go leaving linebackers diving as he escapes out of the side door. Strong stiff-arm helps would-be tacklers catch grass stains. Can turn the corner and create a straightaway to the end zone. Was Big 12 leader in percentage of explosive carries (15-plus yards) at 11.9 percent. True three-down back. Devastating pass catching option. Excellent route runner creating immediate separation. Soft hands to make the easy catch and the one-hander. Will step in and square up his blocking responsibilities in pass game.


Some in scouting community concerned with character beyond his domestic violence incident. Inconsistent as inside runner. Can be too patient at times. Looks for wide-open points of entry before he hits the gas. Can be nonchalant approaching line of scrimmage. Dances downhill allowing running lanes to become creases. Feet lag behind when headed into congestion and will get loose with his rush track inviting tacklers a chance to get a hand on him. Lacks creativity in initial stages of his run at times. Vision is just average. Fails to see backside cuts developing on stretch plays. Hops into his downhill cuts rather than a crisp plant-and-go.

He’s an explosive athlete who’s a threat to score every time he touches the football. It’s his quick-twitch ability and burst that makes him so dangerous.

Mixon also features good vision and the awareness to quickly locate the open running lane. He runs with excellent balance which helps him pick up yards after contact. Mixon’s change of direction skills allow him to make quick cuts and pick his way through traffic.

His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is a major plus. He features excellent hands routinely plucking the ball away from his frame. Mixon runs clean routes showing the ability to create a lot of separation. This is someone who has the potential to impact the as a receiver as much as he does as a runner.

He could benefit from working on lower his pad level as he tends to expose too much of his frame. This impacts his ability to finish runs by moving the pile. Mixon can also play a little too patience which results in missed opportunities.

CBS Sports

STRENGTHS: Looks the part of a professional athlete with a muscle-packed frame, including well-built arms, knotted calves and a powerful lower half. Possesses terrific initial quickness and lateral agility for a player of his size, eluding defenders in close quarters with side-steps and jump-cuts and zipping through holes with instant acceleration and the speed to score from any point on the field. Mixon is a natural with the ball in his hands, showing excellent anticipation, vision and patience to set up his blocks as a running back and returner. He is more powerful than his tall frame might imply, lowering his shoulders into would-be tacklers and showing good leg drive, forward lean and determination to finish runs. He is stronger than he looks, showing good balance to absorb hits and keep his feet churning through contact. Mixon is a legitimate weapon as a receiver, showing above average hand-eye coordination to secure the ball without losing speed and is an accomplished route-runner, showing the agility and speed to create separation. He is younger than most prospects, not turning 21 until July 24.

WEAKNESSES: Though his agility and balance Mixon accelerates quickly but does not appear to have the elite breakaway burst to outrun pursuit angles from savvy defenders. He can get a little careless with the ball, holding the ball loosely and away from his frame, at times, and fumbled six times in two seasons with the Sooners (including three times against rival Texas in 2016).While muscle-bound, Mixon's tall frame could leave him more susceptible to injury than running backs with a shorter, more compact build. Mixon requires a thorough investigation into his character and may simply be taken off the board completely for some clubs given the heinous (and public) nature of the crime

My Take:

I’m impressed with his movement ability for a guy of his size. Watching him run next to Samaje Perine his whole career, I forget how big Mixon actually is compared to other backs.

Great speed/size/agility combo. Reminds me of LeVeon Bell for the Steelers.

He attempts to make guys miss more than runs over/through them, but general succeeded with it at the college level.

Great receiving option out of the backfield and was used as a receiver frequently in OU’s offense.

Even though his role was technically a time-share and he was the lightning to Perine’s thunder, he thrived when given a full workload and could easily shoulder a full workload at the next level, including work in between the tackles.

Lastly, he has ability as a returner as well.

Fit with the Broncos

From a pure football perspective, Joe Mixon fits very well on the Broncos roster. In a similar way that Christian McCaffrey could be runner/receiver/returner, I think that Mixon brings some of that versatility too. He obviously would be used differently and more exclusively out of the backfield, but he brings a dynamic element to Denver’s offense.

Additionally, Mixon did a lot of his work out of pistol/shotgun with the Sooners which fits well with what it seems like Mike McCoy will be doing this year.

However, if football were the only thing at play, Mixon would likely be gone before Denver picks. John Elway and Joe Ellis will have to feel extremely confident with where he is at personally to even consider pulling the trigger.

All that said, I think if Denver isn’t able to get McCaffrey in the 1st round, Mixon might be in play for them in the second round.