The running back, shown on camera back in 2014 punching a female University of Oklahoma student in a restaurant near campus, was not taken without a heavy amount of consideration that even yielded an open letter to the public written by Bengals owner Mike Brown explaining his thought process behind the pick.
Head coach Marvin Lewis elaborated a bit on those efforts during an interview with Sirius XM on Thursday.
"A lot of time, a lot of research," Lewis said. "Time spent with Joe. Time researching people around Joe. Joe's past in East Bay [California]. All those kinds of things that way. His past on campus at Oklahoma since the incident. So, there couldn't be any other red flags to say, 'Well, well, maybe...' No, no, no. It had to be clean, and Joe knows that. He knows going forward, it has to stay clean all the time. He's lived on the tip of the sword for three years now, and he's got to continue to probably for the rest of his life."
In the brief time Lewis and Mixon have spent together on the field, the coach has been impressed.
"He's off the charts talent-wise," Lewis said. "Big, fast, catch, run, see, smart -- and he's a 20-year-old kid. He's as smart as a whip. You know, I mean, those things are fun. And I keep reminding everybody, he's a 20-year-old kid. Keep understanding that. Let Joe continue to grow and develop as we go."
Mixon's immense talent earned him the second chance many analysts did not expect him to have. NFL Network's Mike Mayock was adamant during the pre-draft process that he would not select Mixon at all. As Lewis said, Mixon will have to expect living "on the tip of the sword" while conversations about his on-field ability remain a lesser storyline.