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Report: Colts have Joe Mixon on their draft board

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NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Auburn vs Oklahoma John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more interesting conversations leading up to this year’s draft has centered on Joe Mixon, the talented Oklahoma running back with off-the-field issues that will cause him to drop in the draft.

Each team will need to make a decision on whether to put Mixon on its board or not, and there will be a handful of teams (at least) that decide to take Mixon off of their board completely. But what about the Colts?

According to a report today from Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, Joe Mixon is on the Colts’ board. Miller reports that pass rusher is the logical first round pick for the Colts, and then adds that that note about Mixon.

New general manager Chris Ballard has remade the team through free agency, giving the Colts the freedom to go with a best-player-available approach. As for needs, my scouting source said edge-rusher should be targeted in Round 1. This is another team that has Mixon on its board.

The part suggesting the Colts should target an edge rusher in round one shouldn’t come as a surprise, and I think most Colts fans would agree with that. But the part about Mixon is far more interesting because it seems to be reporting that the Colts do in fact have him on their board. Miller also mentioned the Green Bay Packers as another team having Mixon on their draft board, and there are surely others too.

Why is this significant? Because Colts general manager Chris Ballard explained last week that they’re not making decisions on whether to draft a player or not on draft day, as those come beforehand. So if a player is on the Colts’ board, that means that they’d be ok with drafting him. It’s not like he’s on the board just so that they can say ‘we’ll see if we are ok taking him if the situation arises.’ It means that the Colts have decided that they’re ok taking Mixon if they feel that talent-wise he’s the best pick. Most likely, this would be in the second round.

Mixon is an incredibly talented player, and one personnel executive actually said that Mixon is the best overall player in this year’s draft. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, the point is that he’s a very good player. In 2016 at Oklahoma, Mixon rushed for 1,274 yards and ten touchdowns while averaging 6.8 yards per carry, caught 37 passes for 531 yards and five scores, returned 21 kickoffs for an average of 23.5 yards per return and one touchdown, returned four punts for an average of 6.3 yards per return, and even completed a pass for a 26-yard touchdown. The off-field concerns have overshadowed his talent during the pre-draft process, however, as a few years ago he punched a woman and video of it later surfaced.

That means that each team needs to do their homework on Mixon and how he’s grown. Chris Ballard has emphasized that he wants to formulate his own opinions on players instead of relying on the common thinking, and therefore it’s a case-by-case basis with each of these prospects with character or off-field concerns. As recently as last week, Ballard said that they weren’t yet at the point where they were removing anybody from their draft board.

So it is possible that the Colts have not yet made the decision on Mixon and therefore could still take him off of their draft board (which is possible especially since Ballard emphasized that the “cement’s not dry until draft day”), but since we’re just two days away and Miller is reporting that Mixon is on their board, it’s most likely that they have decided that they’re ok taking him. That’s a decision that Ballard has said must include everybody, from the GM to the head coach to the scouts to the owner to the PR staff, so if the Colts do wind up taking Mixon fans can be assured that the Colts did their homework.

For a team like the Colts really needing a young running back and with the possibility of a talented back like Joe Mixon being there in the second round pick, that could wind up being a great pick - so long as they’re sure about Mixon’s growth off-the-field and that there aren’t still lingering concerns.