GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers fans are open to their team drafting troubled but talented Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, but not in Thursday’s first round.
That’s according to an unscientific USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin poll that surveyed 2,134 fans on Twitter over a 24-hour period this week. Voters responded to the following question directed at Packers fans: “Do you want Ted Thompson to draft Joe Mixon, the talented Oklahoma RB caught on video punching a woman?”
Mixon was not invited to the NFL scouting combine in February after video captured him punching a female student at Oklahoma on July 25, 2014. Mixon, a highly recruited freshman at the time, was suspended for the entire 2014 season before returning for two seasons with the Sooners.
He rushed for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns on 300 carries the past two years, adding 65 catches for 894 yards and nine touchdowns.
Video of Mixon’s punch was voluntarily released in December when it became apparent a court ruling would make it public anyway. The Packers did not remove him from their draft board, joining several teams in extending him one of their 30 pre-draft invitations to visit at their facilities.
In a joint statement last week, Mixon and the student, Amelia Molitor, announced a settlement to their lawsuit. Moliter acknowledged “we both could have handled things differently” on that night in the summer of 2014. Whether that settlement was enough to significantly improve Mixon’s draft stock will be seen this week.
A majority of fans want the Packers to draft Mixon, according to the Twitter survey.
While 28 percent answered with the “don’t even think about it” option, 72 percent found it acceptable for the Packers to draft Mixon in one of the seven rounds. The draft’s second day (second and third rounds) was the most popular in terms of timing, receiving 42 percent of the vote. Thirteen percent wanted the Packers to draft Mixon in the first round, while 17 percent wanted Mixon drafted after the first three rounds.
The low percentage of first-round preferences revealed more about what Packers fans thought of the running back position than Mixon. In another unscientific Twitter poll surveying 1,814 voters in a 24-hour period this week, 47 percent said they wanted the Packers to draft an edge rusher with their first-round pick (29th overall), while 43 percent said they wanted a cornerback. Running back received only 9 percent of the vote.
If the Packers select an edge rusher, Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt would be a popular choice. He was the runaway winner in an unscientific Twitter poll surveying 1,652 voters for their preference in edge rushers for the Packers. Watt, younger brother of three-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, received 71 percent of the vote amassed in a 24-hour period this week.
UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley received 16 percent, followed by Missouri’s Charles Harris with 9 percent and Kansas State’s Jordan Willis with 4 percent. Alabama’s Tim Williams and Youngstown State’s Derek Rivers also received votes.
The popular choice isn’t as clear at cornerback. In an unscientific Twitter poll surveying 1,456 voters in a 24-hour period this week, Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey and LSU’s Tre’Davious White split 28 percent of the vote. They were followed by Washington’s Kevin King with 25 percent and Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie with 19 percent. Of realistic possibilities, Ohio State’s Gareon Conley, Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis, Washington’s Sidney Jones and Florida’s Teez Tabor also received votes.
But in the unlikely event the Packers select a running back in the first round – something general manager Ted Thompson never has done in 12 prior drafts – Mixon remains the popular choice.
In an unscientific Twitter poll surveying 1,875 voters on whom they want to see in the Packers' offense (other than Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, the draft’s top two options who are unlikely to be available), Mixon polled 38 percent. He was closely followed by Florida State’s Dalvin Cook’s 37 percent. Texas’ D’Onta Foreman polled 17 percent, while Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara polled 8 percent.