And after his pro day performance Wednesday, we know with all the more certainty that he's a special athlete.
"(He) impressed everybody that was there. There were a handful of running backs coaches there. I spoke with a scout who was in attendance. ... He said 'That was a Round-1 workout in any draft class.' He said he was phenomenal," said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. "So Joe Mixon did everything on the field. Now it comes down to sorting his issues off the field and if a team will be comfortable or not making him a selection in the 2017 draft. But when you stack him up with the other running backs in this draft, I think he's right in the discussion to be considered the top player at the position. I compare him to (Arizona Cardinals RB) David Johnson. That's the kind of skill set he possesses."
Concerns about Mixon stem from a 2014 incident in which he punched a female OU student, breaking multiple facial bones, when he was a freshman. He was charged with acts resulting in gross injury and suspended for the season by coach Bob Stoops. He later reached a plea agreement on the criminal charge, and opted to enter the draft after his redshirt sophomore season.
That the scout sees Mixon as a first-round talent is one thing; that he sees him as a first-rounder in any draft class is quite another, because this particular draft class is teeming with talent at the position. Between LSU's Leonard Fournette, FSU's Dalvin Cook and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, there are three potential first-round running backs not even counting the former Sooners star.
Mixon, at least from a talent standpoint, makes a fourth.