Speculation that the Vikings were interested in controversial Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon picked up last month when team officials — including head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman — attended his pro day.
The NFL draft is still more than two weeks away, so we can’t elevate anything from “smoke” to “fire” status until picks are actually made. That said, when it comes to the Vikings’ perceived interest in Mixon, there is some more smoke courtesy of Matt Miller, the lead NFL draft writer for Bleacher Report.
On Tuesday’s Access Vikings podcast, Miller joined Matt Vensel, Andrew Krammer and myself to discuss several players and positions of need for the Vikings. When the conversation turned to running backs, I asked Miller what team will be the one to take a chance on Mixon — suspended for one year at Oklahoma for an awful domestic violence episode caught on video, and subsequently not invited to the NFL Combine. Here’s what Miller said:
“It might be you guys. It might be. The four teams I’ve heard most consistently with Mixon are Minnesota, New Orleans, Cincinnati and Oakland. And that’s going to back to in-season, the teams asking about him the most. I think it’s very possible. … He’s going to go in the second round, which is my feeling. … He’s absolutely in play at No. 48 (for the Vikings).”
He also noted that Mixon is the style of runner who fits better into a shotgun or pistol offense, which the Vikings (and plenty of other NFL teams) are utilizing more these days.
The Vikings certainly have had some character risk picks pay off on the field in the past — most notably Randy Moss, who was passed by 20 times in the 1998 draft before the Vikings scooped him up.
Mixon, though, has a whole different level of baggage. He punched a woman in the face at a restaurant, an incident that makes it awkward and uncomfortable to even talk about his on-field exploits. Star Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins a month ago argued that the Vikings should avoid Mixon, concluding, “The sincere hope is that Mixon has a productive career, on and off the field. But if I’m the Vikings, I would continue to address offensive line and then choose a different running back from a deep pool.”
That was written before the Vikings signed Latavius Murray, though there is still a sentiment that Minnesota could take a running back in the draft.
But Mixon? Miller says the Vikings’ interest is there. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.