Lies, rumors and reconnaissance abound as NFL Draft nears

Jamie C. Harris | 4/13/2017, 2:09 p.m.
The 82nd NFL Draft, being held in Philadelphia, is two weeks away, as the first round will take place Thursday, ...
Joe Mixon Contributed

The 82nd NFL Draft, being held in Philadelphia, is two weeks away, as the first round will take place Thursday, April 27. Which means the lies, rumors and reconnaissance that have become synonymous with the draft are in full bloom.

The Cleveland Browns currently hold the No. 1 pick. As for the local teams, the Jets have the No. 6 pick and the Giants No. 23. Although it would seem logical for the Browns to select Myles Garrett, the supremely athletically endowed defensive end from Texas A & M and the highest graded player by many scouts and executives, rumors are abounding that the Browns are considering taking Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback from the University of North Carolina who only started 13 games—all this past season—in his three years on the program’s active roster. Trubisky redshirted his freshman year in 2013.

The allure of securing a franchise quarterback, an Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton, in the first round of the NFL draft will always be a focal point of teams who lack a prominent player at football’s most important position. But it is also overstated and overanalyzed. More often than not, teams’ evaluations of quarterbacks taken in the first round are unreliable and inaccurate.

If the science of projecting the NFL future of a quarterback was more exact, then Tom Brady, arguably the greatest QB ever, and Dak Prescott, who led the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 record last season, the best in the NFC, and won the Rookie of the Year award, wouldn’t have been drafted in the sixth round and fourth round, respectively.

So talk of the Browns taking Trubisky at the top of the draft is more likely a smokescreen than it is verifiable discussion. Furthermore, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson may be a better quarterback prospect and certainly had a far more accomplished college career.

Perhaps the most intriguing, maligned and controversial prospect in the upcoming draft is former University of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. In July 2014 while a freshman at Oklahoma, Mixon engaged in a verbal confrontation with a young woman in a sandwich shop in Norman, Okla. He subsequently punched her in the face, breaking the woman’s jaw and cheekbone.

Mixon accepted a plea deal on an assault charge and avoided serving any prison time. He was suspended for his freshman season. The incident did not attract widespread outrage and condemnation until a video of the occurrence was released 17 months later in December 2016.

Mixon suddenly became a vilified pariah as the footage drew visceral comparisons to video of former NFL running back Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancé and current wife in an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City in February 2014, then dragging her out of the elevator.

Rice never played in the NFL again. The 20-year-old Mixon hasn’t begun his career, but the first round talent, who may drop to the third round as a result of his actions, has already learned some harsh life lessons. Although he has met with representatives from multiple NFL teams, some organizations have indirectly stated they will not draft Mixon because of his violence against women.

“While I believe in second chances and giving players redemption, I also believe that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right,” New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently expressed to the Boston Herald. “For me, personally, I believe that privilege is lost for men who have a history of abusing women.”

Kraft’s statements are somewhat hypocritical and incongruous, given his widely reported longtime friendship with Donald Trump and his support of Trump during the presidential campaign. So Kraft’s issues with men who abuse women evidently have conditions. One being that Trump isn’t an NFL prospect.