NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 02: Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs with the ball against the Auburn Tigers during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

NORMAN, OK – Former Oklahoma Sooners back Joe Mixon is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the 2017 NFL draft class, but lingering questions about his character due to a high-profile incident in which he punched a woman on video has many personnel directors questioning whether drafting him is worth the negative publicity. But in interviews and workouts with prospective teams, Mixon has received guidance on what he must do to prove that he is worthy of playing in the NFL.

“I’ve been told by a number of teams that the best way I can prove my maturity and show that I am a changed man who respects women is to run a really fast 40,” said Mixon. “They say that a 4.2 40 would definitely show that I deserve a second chance.”

Dallas Cowboys owner and president Jerry Jones said he has told Mixon that himself.

“Kids make mistakes and what not,” said Jones. “They stay out past curfew or punch a woman square in the face. That kind of thing. But what I’ve told Joe is that if he can run really fast at his pro day or at the combine, that it will show that he quickly wants to move past that period of his life, get it? Like a metaphor. And also, more importantly, it will show that he could be an awesome NFL back.”

Scouts say that a 4.2 40 would show Mixon is 100-percent rehabilitated and deserving of a 1st Round pick, while a 4.3 would raise some red flags and drop him to the middle rounds. A 4.5 40 or worse would be very detrimental to his NFL future.

“If Joe comes out there and runs a 4.55 or something, the Bengals organization will take a strong and very vocal stand against violence against women,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “The responsibility is on him to run a fast time and then to never, ever be caught on film hitting a woman again. No second chances this time, unless it’s a 4.2, of course. That’s game-changing speed.”

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