Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn was disappointed that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon was not invited to the NFL combine, but says the Lions will still do their due diligence in evaluating the talented but controversial Mixon nonetheless.
Mixon was suspended for the 2014 season after punching a female Oklahoma student in the face.
Quinn says the Lions would have long discussions before determining whether or not to draft Mixon, and team owner Martha Ford would have to sign off on it.
Mixon was among a number of players not invited to participate in the combine because of off-the-field issues. The rest of the running backs spoke to the media on Thursday.
"We're going to leave the door open on Joe," Quinn said. "We come here to see the best college football players. So there's 330, 340-some odd players here. Him not being here, because of those issues, personally I don't think that's real fair because we have a lot of investigation that we want to do on him and to get him in one spot for all the teams would have been great."
"I'm not part of those decisions about how guys are chosen, but I think it is a disappointment that guys like him, and there's a few others you can put in that category, that we're going to be chasing around in the months of March and April and it's really unfair to the players, to be honest with you. So the door's open and I'd like to be able to get down, get a chance to sit down with the people that know Joe or Joe and kind of see what the circumstances were around the incident. He is still on our draft board, yes."
Mixon led Oklahoma in rushing with 1,274 yards (6.8 average), and scored 10 touchdowns this past season. He also caught 37 passes for 538 yards with another five scores. Most analysts consider Mixon among the five best running backs available in this year's draft.
"I made a bad decision," Mixon told Pro Football Talk earlier this week of the incident in 2014. "Ever since that night I have to live with it. I've got to re-live it every day. You can never forget something like that. It still haunts me to this day, but it's what you do from that point on. You can't take it back. I can replay it in my head a thousand times, and if I could take it back I would, but I can't."
-* Tim Twentyman*
WHO'S THE BEST?
Tackle Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin doesn't take it lightly that he is a consensus pick to be the first offensive lineman drafted.
"It's a special thing," Ramczyk said Thursday. "It's an amazing feeling ... to get this experience, it's incredible."
His own status aside, Ramczyk was quick to answer when asked to pick the best defensive lineman he faced in his two years as a starter for the Badgers.
"I'd probably say Taco Charlton," Ramczyk said. "He's a quick pass rusher, and he backs it up with speed. It was a good challenge."
Charlton was a one-year starter for Michigan. He had 9.5 sacks as a senior in 2016 and five as a rotational player as a junior in 2015.
- Mike O'Hara
WEAKER O-LINE CLASS
This year's draft class is particularly strong at running back, along the defensive line and in the secondary.
But this year might be one of the weaker offensive line classes in terms of overall talent and depth we've seen in a number of years.
There are only three offensive linemen (two tackles and a guard) in Scouts Inc.'s Top 32 players: Ramczyk (Wisconsin), tackle Garett Bolles (Utah) and guard Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky).
"The offensive line depth in this draft probably isn't as good as it has been," Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. "Traditionally, interior lineman, for whatever reason, guards and centers – there's never a great number. There are always great players, but just not a lot of numbers.
"The tackle numbers are down this year, for whatever reason. There are some great players in the class, just not as many as maybe there have been in recent years."
Just four years ago, three tackles were among the top four picks in the draft. In 2014, three tackles went off the board in the first 11 picks. Two tackles have been selected in the Top 10 in each of the last two drafts.
Most mock drafts don't have a tackle going in the first 15 picks this year. If those turn out to be accurate, it would be the first time since 1982 a tackle hasn't been selected in the first 15 picks.
-* Tim Twentyman*
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles:
"When I'm on the field, I want to put people in the dirt. That's what I'm here for. As an offensive lineman, you want to be the nastiest prick you can be. Whoever is in front of me, I'm going to drive him and put him in the dirt."
- Tim Twentyman