Tough questions, challenges await team that drafts Mixon

The draft is one of the premier events in the NFL calendar, but it could this week give the league's image yet another bloody nose.

While Deflategate captured much of the public's attention, more serious scandals sparked by domestic violence sagas involving Ray Rice and Greg Hardy, have done significant damage to how the NFL is viewed by many in recent times.

And the fact that Tyreek Hill, a wide receiver who pleaded guilty to the domestic assault of his then pregnant ex-girlfriend during his collegiate career, was able to star for the Kansas City Chiefs last season, will not have helped that perception.

It should therefore be of considerable concern to Commissioner Roger Goodell that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is going to get drafted and appears set to be taken relatively high.

Mixon is arguably the best running back in the draft, a thrill to watch throughout a college career in which he racked up nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 26 touchdowns.

But Mixon is now sadly best known for the emergence of a heinous video, which shows footage of him punching a woman in the head back in 2014, in December of last year.

Several teams have announced during the pre-draft process that they will not consider selecting Mixon.

However, multiple teams have hosted him for visits at their facilities and there has been talk he could be selected as high as round two.

Such speculation comes despite the draft being loaded with talented running backs who do not have the same stigma attached to their name.

As a result, whichever team does take the gamble on drafting Mixon will have a hard task on their hands explaining why they afforded an opportunity to a player who has been captured on film committing such a terrible act.

The response to that line of questioning will in all likelihood speak to his remorse and the reportedly thoughtful answers he gave to questioning about the incident in interviews with teams.

However, the cold hard truth is the team that takes Mixon will do so because he will give them a much better chance of winning games, and that trumps any public relations headaches his presence on the roster may provide.

Yet those interested in taking Mixon cannot just ignore his past. 

There is a balancing act to strike in where they think it will be acceptable to select him taking into his account his previous actions, and the franchise that puts their faith in Mixon will need to have confidence he can mature in their locker room and make a substantial effort to help him to continue to rebuild his image.

Mixon presents a number of challenges for the team he lands with, but there is the prospect of on-field reward for that team. 

There is no reward for Goodell, who was severely criticised for how the Rice episode was handled.

Mixon being drafted and potentially succeeding will likely only further damage perception of the NFL's attitude to domestic violence and those in the league offices may well be hoping for a long slide for the running back rather than the rise up the draft board many are predicting.

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