Spurned by Most, Joe Mixon Drafted by a Team That May Be Exactly Wrong for HimApril 29, 2017
Notes from Day 2 of the 2017 NFL draft.
1. The worst place Joe Mixon could go
The Bengals picked notorious woman-puncher Joe Mixon. Of course they did.
Mixon's story is well-known and will remain that way for the entirety of his career, thanks to the fact the assault, where he broke four bones in a woman's face, is on video forever.
That tape will stick to Mixon. It will stick to the Bengals. It will stick to both of them. There is no going away from that.
We know all of this. We know there is something deeply wrong with a man who knocks out a woman.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the number of teams seriously interested in Mixon was only four. I was told that there were four to six interested.
Most teams were not. But the Bengals said there was a lot of study behind their decision.
"We've done such a lot of work regarding Joe Mixon, throughout the entire process this year and based on all the time, all the research, we felt that we can continue to move forward," coach Marvin Lewis told reporters. "Joe's situation kind of came to a settlement in all ways this week, which also led us to feel better about the opportunity here to move forward.
"We have done all our due diligence we could do, time spent, interviewing people, everybody around him, everybody around his background, people that have coached at Oklahoma with insight regarding him and how he has carried himself since that day."
There is that part of the story. It's the most important, but there is something almost as vital. It's where Mixon has landed in the league.
This isn't necessarily about the past of the Bengals, who in the 2000s became almost the symbol of a franchise out of control. In fact, as Roger Goodell entered the commissioner's office, one of his first priorities was to corral players like Adam Jones.
The problem is recently, after years of cleaning up that locker room, it went back to Bengalsian form. This is why Mixon went to the one place he should not have gone.
As talented a coach as Lewis is, at times, players in that locker room take advantage of him. He's respected by players (really by almost everyone in football), but they don't always heed him.
Mixon is a man who showed he cannot always control his violence, and he went to a team with two players notorious for the same thing.
Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict, two of the leaders in that locker room, aren't necessarily good examples for Mixon to follow.
Burfict is one of the game's most notorious cheap-shot artists, known for twisting players' ankles and overall dirty play. He is a talented, nasty and at times ugly player.
Jones had cleaned up his act, but he was recently charged with assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing police. The video from TMZ isn't pretty.
The dumbassness of the two men converged into a warp-core explosion of stupid in a playoff game against Pittsburgh after the 2015 season. The Bengals were beating the Steelers, 16-15, with just 18 seconds left in the contest. Burfict hit receiver Antonio Brown in the head, and Jones got a personal foul, combining to help keep Pittsburgh's drive alive. The Steelers would win the game, 18-16.
This is the locker room Mixon is going to. This is the coach he's playing for.
2. Patriots dominating draft despite no first- or second-round picks
This is what you will hear throughout the NFL now: Everyone is terrified of the Patriots. They get inside the heads of teams. Bill Belichick does. Tom Brady does.
This year's draft is yet another example of how they intimidate even when they aren't around.
The entire AFC East drafted defensive players in the first round. The Jets actually took a defensive player in the second round as well.
The Jets took safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the Dolphins took defensive end Charles Harris, and the Bills took corner Tre'Davious White.
Outside of the division, some of the team's biggest rivals also went defense early. The Colts took Malik Hooker, the Raiders Gareon Conley and the Steelers T.J. Watt.
And, as ESPN Stats & Info reported, the 95th overall selection was the 26th defensive back picked in the first three rounds, the most in the common-draft era that began in 1967. Even some of that has to be Brady-related.
There's no question that the picks were all needs of the teams. But there's also no question that, in the division especially, all these years later teams are still trying to figure out how to stop Brady.
Good luck with that.
3. Then there's what the Patriots did on Day 2
The Patriots traded back in Round 3 and got Youngstown State linebacker Derek Rivers and Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia.
The Patriots were able to get these players deeper in the draft despite the fact both men were ranked higher on most teams' boards.
One scout said New England's moves for those two players "were quietly some of the best moves of the draft."
4. Browns finally get their quarterback
It's accurate, as was reported by several media outlets, that the Browns just prior to the draft were attempting to trade for Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Cleveland asked. The Patriots said no. Again.
It probably won't be the last time. The Browns are as eager to get Garoppolo as that iPhone buyer who lines up outside the store at 3 a.m. the first day the new version is available.
Cleveland finally got its thrower in the second round when it drafted DeShone Kizer.
There's one thing we need to note about the Browns: They are having a fantastic draft.
5. Melvin Gordon's advice to rookie runners: Learn to block
The Chargers runner, in a phone interview, said he had one piece of advice for incoming running backs. His words were smart.
"One thing I would tell them is as fast as you can, learn pass protection," said Gordon, who was made available to me by sports-nutrition company EAS. "It will help you in the NFL a lot more than you think.
"First, this is a quarterback league, and learning pass protection helps keep the quarterback off the ground. I noticed that really knowing pass protection also helped me in the receiving game. You learn a lot more about what everyone is doing on offense."
6. GM on John Lynch: 'I thought he'd suck...I was wrong'
The move of the draft—and it's not even close—is the fleecing of the Bears by John Lynch.
I can tell you there was still a sense of shock throughout the league Friday over the ability of Lynch to pull off their early trade Thursday. The 49ers moved from the second spot to the third, getting from the Bears a third and fourth from this year's draft and a third in next year's. The Bears took Mitchell Trubisky, and the 49ers took Solomon Thomas.
"I thought he'd suck," said one general manager of Lynch. "I was wrong."
7. Martavis Bryant with the dumb post of the night
Just a few minutes after the Steelers picked USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round, receiver Martavis Bryant tweeted this: "lol that's Sammie Coates replacement not minds take it how you want to I am back."
Sammie Coates is Bryant's teammate.
That's just cold-blooded. The tweet was later deleted (but CBSSports.com recorded it).
Mike Tomlin tweeted, speaking to both Bryant and Coates, who had started arguing on Twitter: "Play nice boys."
Bryant is emerging from a suspension for multiple violations of the league's drug-testing program. He'll likely be back this coming season.
Hopefully, so will Coates.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.