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The 2017 RB Elite 8: (4) Joe Mixon vs (5) D’Onta Foreman

The RotoViz Running Back Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each match-up with the winner moving on to the next round.

Bracket Update6

(1) Leonard Fournette vs (9) Jeremy McNichols

(3) Christian McCaffrey vs (11) Brian Hill

(4) Joe Mixon vs (5) D’Onta Foreman

Mixon continues to be one of the more hotly-debated players in this draft class. He is one of the higher-ranked backs in the class. Meanwhile Foreman comes into this matchup fresh off a dominant pro day performance. He ran a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, and completed the three cone drill in seven seconds. His stock is certainly on the rise.

Mixon vs Foreman

Heith Krueger – Joe Mixon: While I believe D’Onta Foreman may be underrated as a prospect, given his production, Mixon takes this round for me. His pro day shows him to be an Ezekiel Elliott clone with arguably better receiving ability. Both his 6.8 yards per carry average and 26 total touchdowns surpass Foreman in the same conference (Big 12). Mixon is the clear choice for me.

Matthew Freedman – Joe Mixon: When this contest comes down to Curtis Samuel vs. Mixon, I’m going to be torn. Mixon is a problematic prospect — but he’s six feet one inch, 228 pounds, and athletic. He’s a stronger runner and one of the best pass-catching backs in the class. He’s a 20-year-old three-down workhorse with Le’Veon Bell upside. He’ll likely be available at a discount in rookie drafts because of his issues. As a result, he probably offers the most value in the 2017 class. Foreman is intriguing — especially because he’s almost as young Mixon — but he can’t match Mixon as a receiver.

Jordan Hoover – D’Onta Foreman: Full disclosure, I initially picked Mixon here. But now, in a time of reflection – and in the wake of Foreman’s monster pro day results – I’m re-evaluating. Foreman is young, insanely productive, and with his pro-day-adjusted 40 time of 4.48, scores a perfect 100 in the RB Prospect Lab. That’s LaDainian Tomlinson territory. Regarding his puny reception totals, Kevin Cole made an interesting point on Twitter which could smooth over some worries about his pass-catching upside.

Mixon is the better receiver, no doubt, but character concerns absolutely do matter here. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both Mixon and Foreman become legitimate fantasy options sooner rather than later. But having some sense now of Foreman’s athleticism, I’m willing to bet on him in this matchup.

Blair Andrews – D’Onta Foreman: When I picked Aaron Jones to advance past Mixon in the first round, I noted that Mixon’s resume is disappointing. This becomes even more clear in his matchup with Foreman, who averaged over 180 yards per game at Texas. An RB Prospect Lab superstar, Foreman is a little bigger and only about three months older than Mixon. He’s also likely to be slightly cheaper, according to the latest RotoViz Scouting Index.

Shawn Siegele – D’Onta Foreman: If the Eddie Lacy contract tells us anything, it’s that big backs will continue to get chances even if they’re terrible. Foreman is a Prospect Lab star, while it’s starting to look like Mixon is actually getting a bump from his character red flags as they distract from the nitpicking other top prospects receive.

Anthony Amico – D’Onta Foreman: Foreman dominates Mixon in the Prospect Lab, as the latter failed to be a workhorse with a far lesser athlete as his main competition. In his excellent Rotoworld guest spot, Charlie Kleinheksel pointed out that 65 percent of players suspended for off-field issues, and 50 percent of suspended players overall, never play again. I’ll take the over on 0.5 suspensions for Mixon in his career, and the better prospect at lower cost in Foreman in this matchup.

Matt Wispe – D’Onta Foreman: The argument for Mixon is prospect talent, but Mixon failed to supplant Samaje Perine in the Oklahoma backfield and establish himself as a workhorse collegiate back. Foreman was one of the premier workhorse RBs in college football and he comes at a much cheaper price than Mixon in rookie drafts with substantially less risk.

Pat Kerrane – D’Onta Foreman: Foreman reportedly ran a 4.45 40 at his pro day. That’s what Mixon ran at his pro day, at just five pounds less, so we’re talking about two very good athletes here. Foreman, however, combines that athleticism with the profile of an absolute workhorse, posting nearly 30 carries and 185 yards per game in 2016. Mixon meanwhile, was unable to break out of a committee with the un-athletic Perine and comes with character issues to boot. When Foreman’s speed was a mystery, Mixon was tempting, but we now know that Foreman is a legitimately rare rushing prospect. Even if we dock Foreman’s 40 time to 4.5, and assume a poor 3 cone of 7.2, he still outscores Bell and Adrian Peterson in the RB Prospect Lab. And considering that Foreman may be the best pass-blocking RB in the class, I don’t think his lack of targets at Texas precludes him at least from staying on the field on passing downs, opening the door for true NFL workhorse upside.

Scott Smith – Joe Mixon: Joe Mixon offers the best combination of size and athleticism in this draft. While a lot of people will ding Mixon’s total production, he is the only RB left in this tourney that had a backfield mate in this bracket. That poses an interesting question of why Mixon wasn’t good enough to take the job outright? Or…Perine could also just be good and maybe even better that Foreman. Given today’s NFL, and Mixon’s history catching passes, there is no way I can vote for a 233 pound finesse back that doesn’t catch the ball.

Final Results

Freedman can sleep easy knowing that he’ll never have to choose between Mixon and Samuel in this bracket. The workhorse production of Foreman, combined with quality athleticism at 233 pounds, propels him to the next round. While Mixon is talented, his character concerns and carry split with Perine hold him back from advancing. Foreman will face Jeremy McNichols in the Final 4.

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