Joe Mixon is perhaps the most controversial prospect in this year’s NFL Draft. The former Oklahoma running back was not invited to the Combine and could be a public-relations nightmare for any team that drafts him.

Mixon, of course, was caught on film assaulting a woman in July 2014. Mixon, then 18, punched Amelia Molitor in the face, causing broken bones that required surgery.

Mixon was suspended for the 2014 season.

For many people, that’s all they know about Mixon, aside from the fact that he’s a supremely talented football player. Former Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine tried to change that Tuesday, fielding questions about Mixon on CBS Sports Radio.

 

“Honestly, he’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Perine said on Tiki and Tierney. “Just the bond that we’ve accumulated over these past couple years, it really can’t be broken. I don’t really have a negative thing to say about him. I know the situation, and I know that it’s very unfortunate for him, but I can see past that and I can see who he really is both on and off the field as a leader in the locker room. He’s probably one of the best that we have.”

He was certainly one of the best players Oklahoma had. In 2016, Mixon accounted for 1,800+ total yards and 15 touchdowns (10 rush, five receiving). He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Ohio State.

Still, how can we know that Mixon has learned from his past?

“Just because I’m around him, and I see how he acts when he’s out,” Perine said. “That moment really doesn’t describe him as a person. I know what really happened, and I know the behind story and everything. I can’t say what he did was right or what he did was justified, but I can say I’ve seen him in other situations where he’s handled it like an actual adult. Going forward, I think if there was another situation like that, he would handle it better just because he didn’t really know how to react because he’s never been in a situation like that. He’s fresh out of high school, so you don’t know how many spotlights are on you. He handled it immaturely, but he learned from it and he’s grown from it and he’s a different person now.”

Perine said that the video of Mixon assaulting Molitor only told part of the story of what happened that night.

“There was an altercation outside of the restaurant,” Perine said. “It’s not my place to really talk about what happened outside of the restaurant, but they had contact outside of the restaurant. He basically went in to clear some stuff up, and he was walking out, and she pushed him and so on and so forth. There were things that happened off camera, but unfortunately, we caught the tail end of it.”

In other Oklahoma news, Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield was arrested in Arkansas on Feb. 25 on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and fleeing and resisting arrest. In fact, Mayfield had to be tackled by police during his arrest.

“I have no (idea),” Perine said when asked about the incident. “I didn’t even know about it until a former high school teammate of mine told me about it. I don’t really know how to talk about that one.”

Still, Perine believes that Mayfield, who is returning to Norman in 2017, could be successful in the NFL.

“I think he’ll have a chance to be,” Perine said. “He’s definitely going to be looked over because of his size (6-1), but he’s a very scrappy dude. I feel like whoever gets him, they’re getting a hell of a player.”

As for his own NFL hopes, Perine, who ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the Combine and cranked out 30 reps in the bench press, is taking each day as it comes.

“I don’t really have any expectations,” said Perine, who will watch the draft with his family and fiancee. “I carry the same mentality that I carried in college: Don’t go in with any expectations. Just work as hard as you can, and whatever happens after that is out of your control. But I know how these things work. Teams are going to show you love, but the one (to draft you) is usually the one that you never talk to. So I have no idea where I’m going, but I know wherever I end up, I’m going to work as hard as I can and try to contribute as early as possible.”

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