- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2017

There are some NFL prognosticators who think Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon might be the best player in this year’s NFL draft.

But the running back’s videotaped, jaw-breaking downing of a woman in a sandwich shop in 2014 has a lot of teams — including the Washington Redskins — weighing the cost of taking on a ballplayer known as much for his off-field trouble as his gridiron exploits. 

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, was mum this week when asked if Mixon is on Washington’s radar.

Campbell said it doesn’t make any sense strategically to disclose who is on or off the team’s draftboard, but he said the Redskins do generally weigh a potential pick’s off-the-field actions.

“Character is very important to me,” Campbell said. “It’s important to the Redskins. Our scouts do a great job in getting a lot of information. … All those things are factored into the evaluation as they’re gathered.

“It’s very important to me to get the right kind of guy in here to help us win, to make us better.”

The Redskins were inconclusive on Mixon, but at least six other NFL teams, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, have said the 20-year-old is off their boards.

Mixon was suspended for the 2014 season at Oklahoma after punching another student at a Norman sandwich shop, sending her to the hospital. He was convicted of misdemeanor assault and ordered to undergo counseling and serve 100 hours of community service. He also recently settled a civil lawsuit with the woman.

Mixon’s case is the latest to put a spotlight on the issue of athletes and violence against women — an area where the NFL, in particular, has suffered repeated public-relations disasters in recent years.

Scouts say Mixon is a first-round talent on tape. But any team that takes him in the draft — or even as a free agent, should he go unselected — is sure to face a backlash from some corners. 

Campbell said the Redskins’ scouts will always grade talent first, then character, which factors in as the draft gets closer.

“You don’t grade character, you grade talent,” Campbell said. “So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have an redeeming quality or there’s a side of a story you don’t know about. So you grade football players as football players first on talent.

“Then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.’”

The NFL draft begins Thursday at 8 p.m. 

 

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