Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon can rule out being selected by the Ravens in the NFL draft after owner Steve Bisciotti renewed the organization's position against choosing players with histories of violence against women.
The franchise’s restraint stems from its own history with former tailback Ray Rice, a 2008 second-round pick who was cut in Sept. 2014 after he was seen on video assaulting his then-fiancee and current wife.
During an annual season review at its training facility in Owings Mills, Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome were asked about drafting players who have talent but also a checkered past. One example is rookie wide receiver and return specialist Tyreek Hill, who slid to the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round after getting arrested for choking and hitting his girlfriend in Dec. 2014 while attending Oklahoma State, and is now an explosive talent on the field.
“I think you know that there are some people that we’re going to take off our board that do real well in the league," Bisciotti said. "That’s just the way it goes. Categorically, yeah, domestic abuse, we’re not taking them. Kansas City is in the playoffs partly because of a guy they took a chance on. Will we take chances like that again? I don’t think so.”
Mixon has been projected as a first-round talent, but has been a controversial figure since he punched a female student at Oklahoma at a campus deli in 2014. Mixon was suspended for a year and reached a plea agreement on a misdemeanor. Video of the incident was released publicly last month, and Mixon apologized in a written statement in which he also claimed to be the target of racial slurs.
Newsome said the team’s brain trust must weigh the risks of selecting a player with character issues.
“Within this organization, we have a lot of people that have been around athletes that have had issues,” he said. “When we take a player, especially through the draft, we come up with a plan of what that player means, not only on the football field, but off the field. I don’t think we are afraid of character guys. But we want guys that No. 1, love to play football, that are going to be here on time and hopefully not getting in trouble when they leave.
"But we have to do any and everything that we can that 21- and 22- and 23-year-old athletes to help them so they can go from being a young Ray Lewis to a young Jamal Lewis, who had issues, to end up being stellar within the organization. We’re not afraid of that.”