Controversial running back prospect Joe Mixon, who was the subject of national attention after he was shown punching a woman on camera, was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 48 overall in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday.
Mixon was pegged by many draft analysts to be a Day 2 pick despite questions about his character following the incident, which occurred in July 2014 prior to his freshman season at Oklahoma.
"You know, I am still sitting here crying. I can't believe it. I can't believe it," Mixon said on a conference call Friday, per ESPN. "You know, I am thankful and very honored to be a part of -- to be a Cincinnati Bengal."
Oklahoma suspended Mixon for a season after he was shown on camera punching and knocking out Amelia Molitor, a fellow Oklahoma student, after a brief confrontation at a Norman, Oklahoma, restaurant. Molitor suffered fractured bones in her face, according to the Associated Press. Video of the incident wasn't made public until after a judge ordered the release of security videos in December 2016.
Mixon, 20, completed one year of probation, 100 hours of community service and behavioral counseling as part of a plea agreement to a misdemeanor assault charge, according to court records. Last week, a settlement was reached in the civil lawsuit Molitor filed against Mixon, according to the Associated Press. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the team looked at "every single aspect" of the incident and ultimately came away believing Mixon deserved a chance with the team.
"I don't know who isn't disgusted with what they saw," Lewis said on the conference call. "But that's one day in a young man's life, and he's had to live that since then and he will continue to have to live that, and he gets an opportunity to move forward and write his script from then on.
"It's come to a conclusion with the young lady," Lewis said. "They've come to their statements, her statement about how they both could've handled the day better. But again, that doesn't change it."
Mixon is considered one of the top running backs of this year's draft class. The NFL didn't invite him to the scouting combine, but he had a strong pro day, clocking an official time of 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He was ranked just outside the top five of NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock's final pre-draft rankings and is considered one of the top kick returners in the draft. Although Mixon met with at least 15 teams before the draft, some did not have him on their draft boards.
Speaking on The Rich Eisen Show on April 12, Mixon reiterated he's a "different person" from the one who punched a woman at an Oklahoma restaurant in 2014 and said he isn't "running from the fact that I made a huge mistake."
"I've been through a lot of situations after that and I learned a lot," said Mixon, who told Eisen he had met with around 15 teams two weeks before the draft. "I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about the character of me. I just grew up from the situation and moved fast and tried to move forward in a positive manner."
Returning from suspension, Mixon rushed for 753 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015 before tallying 1,274 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. He accumulated 1,812 yards and 15 touchdowns from scrimmage in 2016.
Watch the NFL Draft LIVE today at noon ET on NFL Network.