March 29, 2017
PHOENIX - Over the last week, we've covered Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and 'character issue' players rather extensively here. On Monday, we noted that Mixon is a perfect fit for Eagles' offense, football-wise, and wondered if the Eagles would consider drafting him. On Tuesday we made a connection between Andy Reid's handling of character issue players both with the Eagles and in his time with the Chiefs, and applied that to the Eagles' potential current thinking.
Since then, both Jeffrey Lurie and Doug Pederson have spoken with the media, and were asked several questions about Mixon as well as character issue players in general. Lurie opted not to speak specifically on Mixon, but he didn't exactly shut down the idea of drafting him.
"I don’t want to talk about a specific player," he said. "Of course, I know all about situations like that. I’ll say this – First of all, we’ve been an organization that has given players a second chance, however, we have also been an organization that really values character. Add to that the fact that I would never want to telegraph what we’re going to do at any position in the draft. Sitting here with all you guys, just to be completely honest, I can’t explain to you exactly what we would be doing because I don’t want to telegraph to the rest of the league what we’re going to do."
Lurie acknowledged that if the Eagles were to ever add a player with serious character concerns, he would have to personally give the green light, referencing the Eagles' signing of Michael Vick in 2009.
"The only real example on that I can give is Michael Vick because it was a big decision," he said. "That’s the real time – and you can replay that press conference – it took a lot of searching my own values, family, love of dogs and all that, but really tried to take it on a case by case basis. So I’ll naturally talk to Howie (Roseman), to Joe (Douglas), Don Smolenski, and we’ll discuss every situation like that. And I’ll listen. I’m more of a listener and asker of questions. In the end, of course, it’s my decision if we’re going to sign (a character concern player like Michael Vick) or not."
Mixon, as noted above, would be a great fit for the Eagles' offense. At 6'1, 226, Mixon is powerfully built. He's also a smooth runner with burst, sporting a 4.43 time in the 40 at his Pro Day, and an outstanding weapon in the passing game, as he had 37 receptions for 538 yards (14.5 YPC) and 5 TDs in 2016. He can run inside and outside. He can pick up first downs in short-yardage situations, as well as take it to the house for monster gains. He is a true "three-down" lead back who can do it all.
Doug Pederson acknowledged as much.
"As a player, I’ve watched him a little bit this offseason, and you know, he's a talented player, very explosive," Pederson said "He has good hands out of the backfield. You put him in there with a lot of these backs that are coming out. Dynamic, exciting back to watch."
Pederson was also asked what he values in running backs in his offense.
"I think that position has changed quite a bit over the years," Pederson explained. "I think that obviously every team, you look for guys that, are they a three down guy? A guy that can play first, second and third down? Guys that are mobile in the sense of (moving running backs) out of the backfield. We do so much with empty sets (no backs in the backfield). A lot of teams do a lot of empty sets. Route running ability (is important). Obviously the skill set of running the football, I mean, that’s what they do. Obviously, they have to be able to carry the ball and run.
"There’s so much versatility in backs nowadays from again, those empty formations, out of the backfield, spreading the field, those are the things that we want to see. (In terms of) physical traits, can they run between the tackles? Are they physical enough to run between the tackles? Can they stretch the field in outside zone? Every run game plan every week changes. Sometimes you’re going to be more inside the tackles, and then the next week you might be outside the tackles, so you have to have the versatility to do that. So those are things we look for in these backs."
When asked how he weighs talent vs. character, Pederson responded, "It’s a fine line. It’s a fine line. And it’s tough. It’s tough, because again, you’re looking for guys that can fit into your system, and you’re always looking to add talent to your roster, but at the same time you have to make sure you’re doing your homework on these players, again, whether it’s free agency or the draft that they’re the right fit for you."
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski
Like Jimmy on Facebook.
Like the new PhillyVoice Sports page on Facebook.