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March 27, 2017

Joe Mixon a perfect fit for Eagles' offense, but would they consider drafting him?

PHOENIX – In a similar way that former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was the face of dogfighting as much as he was known for being a special athlete when owner Jeffrey Lurie gave his approval to sign him eight years ago, Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon's talents are overshadowed for a domestic violence incident.

As they should be. 

In October 2014, Mixon punched a woman, who subsequently needed surgery to repair broken bones in her face, while the biggest reprimand given to Mixon was a year suspension from the football team. 

The incident was caught on security cameras, and has been widely viewed. People who follow either college football or the NFL Draft closely have surely seen the following video. More casual fans will view it for the first time if their favorite team happens to draft Mixon in April this year.

On talent alone, Mixon would likely be a first-round pick, but the video above (as well as Mixon's off-field baggage in general) is surely going to push him down draft boards. Many teams won't draft Mixon at all, no matter how far he falls.

"I think the first thing is not to rush to judgment," said Howie Roseman, appearing on the 97.5 the Fanatic morning show with Anthony Gargano, speaking generally on character issue players. "It’s to make sure that we get all the information, we acquire the information. (Vice President of Team Security Dom DiSandro) is unbelievable at doing that, getting background, digging into guys, making sure that maybe what is out there is or isn’t the truth, and sitting down with Dom as a staff and him coming to us and telling us, ‘Hey, here’s what’s really going on, here’s what happened in the incident,’ and then making a call on whether they’ll be on our draft board or not."

Roseman said that the Eagles had scouts at Oklahoma's pro day, which Mixon attended along with numerous other Sooners draft prospects. Before Roseman even gets the chance to draft Mixon, however, the Eagles will have to get the go ahead from owner Jeffrey Lurie.

Lurie was unavailable for comment, but is scheduled to speak Tuesday evening at the Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

The Eagles are extremely likely to draft a running back in the 2017 NFL Draft. Running back is both a major need for the Eagles and a position of abundance in this draft class.

"When you look at running back, it's a historically deep group, with depth throughout the draft, and all different flavors," said Roseman. "What do you want to pick? You can get him."

That's not the first time Roseman has used the "flavor" analogy. After the Eagles traded up from the No. 8 pick to pick No. 2 around this time last year, it became clear that they would end up with either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz, depending on who the Los Angeles Rams selected with the first-overall pick. Roseman compared those two quarterbacks to ice cream and pizza.

"It's like vanilla or chocolate," said Roseman. "It's like pepperoni pizza or sausage. What do you like better? And that's the best part about this. They're not the same guy. They're different. They're unique in so many ways, and they both have some really great traits. And that gives them a chance."

That was all BS, obviously, as the Eagles knew they were going to get Wentz. The Eagles clearly preferred whatever "flavor" Wentz was to them, and they will certainly have preferences at running back.

In this loaded running back class, there isn't a player who fits the Eagles' offense better than Mixon.

It is our belief that the Eagles will target running backs who can not only, you know, run, but who can be weapons in the passing game for Wentz. At the same time, however, they can use a bigger runner who can take over the role of Ryan Mathews, who was the Eagles' physical complement to the Eagles' smaller backs in Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Mathews is a near certainty to be released this offseason once he can pass a physical, and will need to be replaced.

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.

A highlight reel:

This offseason, the Eagles invested in their passing game, adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to their receiving corps. They also have a solid starting five along their offensive line, and impressive depth behind them. The one thing that's missing is a dynamic runner in the backfield who can make the offense complete. 

As a football player, Mixon is everything the Eagles need in a running back. It's perhaps also worth noting that they haven't won a playoff game since the 2008 season, and Eagles fans are running thin on patience.

Lurie made a controversial splash in 2009 when he added Vick. Would he do the same with Mixon?

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