MARVIN LEWIS - Head coach
KEN ZAMPESE - Offensive coordinator
KYLE CASKEY - Running backs coach
Initial comments ...
Lewis: "Obviously this a pick that opens everybody's eyes. We've done such a lot of work regarding Joe Mixon throughout the entire process this year. Based on all the time and all the research, we felt that we can continue to move forward. Joe's situation kind of came to a settlement in all ways this week which has also led us to feel better about the opportunity here and to move forward. We have done all our due diligence that we can do — time spent, interviewing people, everybody around him, everybody around his background, people that have coached at Oklahoma with insight regarding him and how he has carried himself since that day."
How much did you consider the public reaction before making this pick?
Lewis: "Every bit of it. Every bit of it. For some of our fans, they're going to pause for a second. But this thing's got to move forward, and he's got to move on. He has lived with it since the day it occurred, and he's done a good job of carrying himself through that."
The incident was three years ago. What did you want to know most about him and about how he's moved on?
Lewis: "For me personally, and I think for everybody, is — No. 1 — him understanding the magnitude of what occurred and, as he moves forward in his NFL career, what he can do to continue to distance himself from that one day."
What part of the interaction made you believe that he's in a different head space now?
Lewis: "Well I think for the past three years he's had to live on the head of a pin. Everything he's done comes under the microscope. He understands that. I think every day moving forward he lives under that same microscope."
You guys talk a lot about when guys come in here to come in with a plan. What is the plan with Joe going forward?
Lewis: "Again, we've got a plan that will be in place, and it does us no good to sit here today and talk to you about it publicly. This becomes now our player, and (we're) moving forward in 2017 with him. We feel very comfortable with (our) research (and) things that occurred around the league with others and so forth, and how we keep things in place to handle it all."
Football-wise, what did you see with regard to his skill set? What does this do for the offense?
Zampese: "I'm so excited, I can hardly stand myself. This guy can flat go — very, very good football player — strong, explosive, change of direction, feel and instincts, catches the ball, can move him around on different places of the field, interviewed football IQ-wise very well, protections, explained his offense well ... I think he has a very, very bright future."
Coach Caskey, can you add to that position-wise?
Caskey: "There's a lot of what Kenny (Zampese) said — that 0-to-60 acceleration the guy has. He's dynamic — we can put him anywhere on the field. There's a lot of things he can do that can help us, not only in the run game, but in the pass game. He brings an explosiveness to our offense that's good to have with a guy like that. He's a very, very high talented guy. Getting him in the building and getting him in our offense is exciting for us, because there's a lot of things we can do."
You said anywhere on the field — did they line him up wide at all or in the slot?
Caskey: "He was out there a few times. They used him a lot out of the backfield. When he caught the ball you'd see a lot of catches and highlights coming out of the backfield. He had a couple one-handed catches and different things like that that show off his ball skills."
How would you describe his ball skills?
Caskey: "They're top notch. They're the kind that you can trust. He can catch the ball. He brings it in with his hands, he doesn't let it get into his body when he's running the ball, he can make people miss in space, he can run people over, he's 228 pounds, ran a mid-4.4, and has the agility and space of a smaller back."
Marvin does this give you some flexibility with Giovani Bernard? I know he's coming back ...
Lewis: "Gio's done a great job with rehab, and I think Joe Mixon has been a fine returner at Oklahoma. That's also been a part of the things he's done on campus there, so we will also be able to use him in those roles here in Cincinnati as well. I'm excited about that."
Given the situation I'm sure there was some doubt in his mind, what was his reaction when you called him?
Lewis: "I think he's very excited. We talked at length when he was here about the possibility of this happening and then moving forward. We spent a lot of time and now it will all pay off with that ... He's a football player and a young guy, and we've got to move forward."
How big of a gamble did you think it was to move down seven spots and he would still be there?
Lewis: "We felt good about some players that were there on the board at that point, so we felt good about that. That's why we took the opportunity to add the other pick — maybe we can do something positive with the other pick as far as moving around. That's what (Bengals director of player personnel) Duke (Tobin) felt good about — that we people there we felt good about if Joe had gone, that we'd still be in good shape with others."
How much did you guys talk to Joe about what happened that night, and did you talk to him to see some sort of remorse? What was your reaction going into your first few conversations with him?
Lewis: "We've done a lot of work. I had no idea, when we went into this process, (about) anything that had occurred three years ago on that day. So, really, for me, it was from the ground up — every single detail, every single aspect of it. So, yes, we've done a lot. And the biggest thing for me was Joe ... what happened that day, and then how he's had to live his life and will have to continue to live his life for the rest of his life, growing from that day."
Strictly based on talent, did you see him as the best or one of the top couple of running backs in the draft?
Lewis: "We did. Yes."
I know you all are looking forward to moving on from this day and just having him as a football player, but I know there are some fans that are not going to be able to look past that day, what do you say to the fans that might be disgusted?
Lewis: "I don't know who isn't disgusted with what they saw, but it's one day in a young man's life. He's had to live that since then, and he will to continue to have to live that. He gets an opportunity to move forward and write his script from there on. It's come to a conclusion with the young lady — they've come to their statements ... about how they both would have liked to have, and probably should have, handled the day better. But, again, that doesn't change it, and we've got to (move on). He's committed to doing that. He has gone down that path as he's gone forward in his life since that day — what he was asked to do there on campus at Oklahoma from that point on, that entire year, from the President of the university on down. He's been able to cross those bridges all the way through and continue on."
There are reports that other franchises refused to take him. What's different about this franchise?
Lewis: "Each team has to do their own due diligence. There are certain things that maybe other people can tolerate and we don't want to tolerate. Each (team) is different. That's the conclusion that was come to here — to go through the process and then make a determination."
What was your reaction when you got the call and how emotional was it for you?
"It was very emotional. I am still sitting here crying. I can't believe it. I'm very thankful and honored to be a part of the Cincinnati Bengals."
Describe your visits here to Cincinnati and what you had to convince them of?
"Honestly, just go there and tell the truth, look them in the eye and be very sincere about it. Going in there and having a good talk with coach Lewis and the GM and owner, I felt the reason why they selected me was they felt very comfortable and they'd seen the type of person I was. I was very genuine to them and I was very straight up. I can't do (anything) but thank the owners, the organization and coach Lewis for the opportunity."
What have they talked about in terms of a support system for you?
"They're going to get a support team around me. They had PR person and we're going to deal with my agent and get with them and come up with some things for us to get ready to do. I'm looking very forward to it."
From a football perspective, what do think you bring to the Bengals?
"I think I bring the piece they were missing. I feel like I'm going to be very dynamic in that offense. I really feel like John Ross and I are going to bring something to the table that they've never seen before. We're basically looking forward to coming up there. Of course the ultimate goal is us getting to the Super Bowl."
Were there any fears for you in how far you would drop in the draft with everything that happened?
"Truthfully, I didn't know — everything was up in the air. I was blessed and fortunate to come out as a Cincinnati Bengal. I can't thank them enough."
Did you have a good idea this was the team?
"Honestly, I had good idea about it but I wasn't too sure, especially when they switched out with Minnesota. At the end of the day, they picked me up, and we're rocking."
What have the last two days been like for you?
"It's a very exciting process. A little anxious in the process, but at the end of the day, it's all over with, and now I can lift that bridge off my shoulders thanks to the Cincinnati Bengals."
How has this whole situation changed you?
"It changed me a lot as a person — the way you think, the way you carry yourself, or go about things. The way Oklahoma helped me, I can't thank them enough either. I'm going to keep doing the right things around the community, on and off the field, and I'm going to prove to them why they kept me. Leaving Oklahoma, I still have their name at end of the day. I came from through there and I'm going to do whatever I can to make them proud and make them happy. I'm looking forward to doing that with the Cincinnati Bengals as well."
How involved do you plan to get in the community?
"Very involved, mostly with the younger kids around the community, whether it's a AAU team, football team, children's hospitals ... I like doing a lot of things like that. I have a big family and really care for them. Most people don't get that talking to or that person to be around them for advice, or anything like that. And that's what I try to do — just to change somebody's life. You never know who."
Do you feel there is no room for error moving forward and you have to be perfect in everything you do, or has this always been the case for you?
"It's been the case for ever, really. But, at the end of the day, I'm just looking forward to being the best teammate and best person for the Cincinnati Bengals community and organization."
Where are you now and what kind of atmosphere is it?
"I'm with all my family right now. It was very emotional, especially getting picked. I just looked at the TV and they said my name and I just broke down and started crying. To have my family come over to me and say congratulations was the best feeling in the world. I wouldn't trade it with anything."
So it's just a family get together?
"Yes sir, in Oakley."
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