ESPN draft analysts will start some chatter in Cleveland with their side-by-side, two-round mock draft that was released Wednesday morning.
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay will raise plenty of eyebrows not with their first-round picks, but with their selections at the 33rd overall spot, the first pick in round two.
Mixon is the most talented running back in the draft, but he also is the most controversial because of an incident in his past. Before his freshman season in 2014, Mixon punched a woman in a bar, breaking four bones in her face.
He was suspended his freshman season but played well the final two. Browns owner Dee Haslam said it was her belief Mixon had taken steps to turn his life around, and she believed in second chances.
"Do I think things in life preclude you from having a second chance? I don't," she said at the NFL owners meetings. "I think if people are going to turn their life around, that's pretty admirable."
Some teams, though, will not draft Mixon, because of his past. Mixon's lawyers released video of the incident in December ahead of a public release, and the actual footage was every bit as shocking as it sounds. Mixon was charged with misdemeanor assault and accepted a plea deal with one year of probation, counseling and 100 hours of community service. In the two seasons he played for the Sooners, he ran for 2,027 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.
Nobody debates Mixon's talent. The concern is character, and Browns coach Hue Jackson has said the team will not tolerate nonsense. The Browns spent time with Mixon at his pro day, and had him in for a private pre-draft visit on Monday, according to cleveland.com.
Mixon told Pro Football Talk Live that he regretted what happened and it haunts him, but "it's what you do from that point on."
McShay's choice is discussion-worthy as well. Kizer has size and physical skills but needs a lot of work on reads, progressions and fundamentals. He could have as much raw talent as any quarterback, but he also could take longer to develop.
This week Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told SirusXM NFl Radio that Kizer should have stayed with the Irish another year.
"He needs more time to grow in so many areas, not just on the field but off the field," Kelly said. Kiper and McShay both said the same thing when Kizer announced he would enter the draft.
Those picks can't be seen in a vacuum, though.
Kiper and McShay both have the Browns taking defensive end Myles Garrett first overall. The thinking is growing that Garrett is simply too good to pass up. Even the Browns, the thinking goes, cannot overthink that pick. Kiper has given the Browns Garrett in every one of his mocks, McShay has done the same in every mock draft since the college season ended.
The 12th selection, acquired from the Eagles a year ago in the Carson Wentz trade, prompts more discussion. The Browns could draft one of the higher-rated quarterbacks, Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson and let him develop for a year or two. Problem is the Browns really have no veteran "bridge" quarterback to hold the position. They would be trusting Cody Kessler, who had a 92.3 rating as a rookie but also two concussions, to stay healthy. If he can't the rookie might be forced on the field too soon.
Kiper gives the Browns Watson, asking "can the Browns really pass on another potential franchise quarterback?"
McShay gives them tight end O.J. Howard of Alabama, a talented player at a position Hue Jackson said needs fortifying. "I'm just not getting a strong QB vibe from the Browns," McShay offers.
Of the tight ends, where Gary Barnidge returns, Jackson said: "That position needs to upgrade."
Both analysts have Arizona taking a quarterback with the 13th pick. Kiper gives Patrick Mahomes II to the Cardinals; McShay gives them Trubisky. Which lends to the argument that the Browns should simply take a quarterback 12th. The importance of the position forces tough choices. A year ago, Jared Goff and Wentz were not thought to be top-10 worthy; they went first and second.
This year, there are questions about all of the quarterbacks. But their value rises in the draft because of the position they play.
With the 52nd pick, both analysts give the Browns players at positions of need.
Taken together it shakes out this way for each analyst:
Kiper — Garrett (DE), Watson (QB), Mixon (RB), Maye (S).
McShay — Garrett, Howard (TE), Kizer (QB), Smith-Schuster (WR).