It's a very important weekend for all 32 NFL teams in Indianapolis with the NFL Combine taking place. Some 300-something former college football players are showcasing their physical talents and skill sets to scouts and front office executives, hoping to impress and improve their draft stocks.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn is definitely no exception as he looks to continue molding the team into a perennial contender in the NFC in his second season.
Detroit has a number of needs heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, and assuredly the running back spot will be a point of emphasis, albeit not of the highest. One prospect at the RB position that is not in attendance is former Oklahoma tailback Joe Mixon, who was not invited to participate in the Combine.
A new rule was put in place last month by the NFL stating that college players with prior off-field criminal issues were forbidden from attending the Combine. Mixon as many people remember was charged with misdemeanor assault in July of 2014 for punching a woman that ultimately resulted with Mixon getting sued by the victim last year.
But despite the added baggage, Mixon will surely get plenty of looks from almost all clubs, just not at the Combine. Quinn believes it isn't “real fair” for the former Sooner back to be absent from the event.
“We're going to leave the door open on Joe. I think it's really disappointing that Joe's not here,” Quinn told reporters Wednesday. “We come here to see the best college football players in college football. So there's 330, 340-some odd players here. Him not being here, because of those issues, personally I don't think that's real fair because we have a lot of investigation that we want to do on him and to get him in one spot for all the teams would have been great.”
Mixon according to many NFL scouting ‘experts' is a potential first-rounder in terms of overall talent, but the off-field issues will ultimately hurt his stock. Various outlets have Mixon among the top 5 running back prospects in this year's NFL Draft.
Quinn says it's unfair to both the NFL teams, because they can't watch him perform, and the players themselves, who don't get the chance to impress.
“I'm not part of those decisions about how guys are chosen but I think it is a disappointment that guys like him, there's a few others you can put in that category, that we're going to be chasing around the month of March and April and it's really unfair to the players to be honest with you,” Quinn told reporters. “So the door is open and I'd like to be able to get a chance to sit down with the people that know Joe or Joe and see what the circumstances were around the incident.”
Now granted, a lot of this can be avoided with things like ‘Pro Days' and teams holding private workouts for players. Quinn obviously knows that time and resources will be spent when investigating the circumstances of Mixon.
Mixon over the last two seasons at Oklahoma rushed for over 2,000 yards, sharing the duties with fellow former Sooner and draft prospect Samaje Perine. Mixon accumulated close to 3,000 total yards from scrimmage and 26 total touchdowns, 17 of which were of the rushing variety.