INDIANAPOLIS — I usually leave the opinion pieces to guys like Nick Eatman, David Helman or Rob Phillips. They’re the real writers and I am just a scout working in their world.
As much as I love making the annual trip to Indianapolis — this one doesn’t feel the same. The media personality I have become is cheating on the scout in me, and to be honest, it has given me pause.
The Combine was once about the evaluation of the top college players in the country, but as I sit here in the Indiana Convention Center — that’s not the case. In an effort to protect the shield, the NFL has stepped in and due to some sensitive subject matter has limited the scouting access at this event.
As has been widely-discussed, the league did not extend invites to several players with off-field issues in their pasts – most notably, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.
So on Wednesday, the media guy in me wanted to investigate how the general managers and coaches were feeling. To a man, they were disappointed that certain players were not here at the Combine — but they smiled and also said that they supported the league.
In my studies, I have a real curiosity for Mixon, the talented runner from Oklahoma. There is outstanding tape of him shredding defenses with explosive quickness and balance. Mixon is one of the most complete backs in this draft.
He can do it all as a runner, receiver and blocker — but there is big a catch here. There is also some bad tape of Mixon striking a women in a Norman, Okla., restaurant three years ago.
As shocking and disgusting as that image of Mixon was on tape, he deserved to be here to explain his side of the story from that night to these teams who are trying to make their best evaluations.
As one general manager told me: “I’d love to visit with Joe Mixon, but I wouldn’t want you to.”
Talk about hitting home.
It’s wonderful that the NFL is trying create such a great atmosphere for the media and fans by turning the Combine into must-see TV. But the fact of the matter is that the reason we’re here is also the reason that Joe Mixon isn’t.
NFL teams will do their due diligence and make their way to see Mixon, as well as Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelley and others — because that’s what they do. It’s just a shame that my annual visit as a media member has left me feeling I have let my scouting side down.