January was the month of Kirkpatrick and Brockers, and now February is shaping up to be Justin Blackmon central, at least in terms of mocking him to the Carolina Panthers. Scout’s Inc. and Todd McShay have the Oklahoma State WR falling to the Panthers at #9, which is a slight shock given two months ago there were legitimate mocks that had him being the #2 overall pick and heading to St. Louis.
We’ve talked the pros and cons of drafting a WR at length, but I think it’s important to understand what Blackmon brings to the table should be fall to the Panthers. This is what the National Football Post say on the draft’s best pass catcher:
JUSTIN BLACKMON WR, Oklahoma State
2011 GRADE: 7.5 C HT: 6-1 WT: 215
The lack of straight-line speed will limit him however, and when comparing him to first round receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones last year, I don’t think he’s in their class. Nevertheless, he’s got the skill set to line-up all over an NFL offense and make plays on all levels of the field.
The grade of 7.5 projects him thusly:
7.5 Becomes a starter during his rookie year… A prospect who possesses physical attributes that will create mismatches vs. most opponents… A featured player on team.
Okay, so I think most already understood that he’s no A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but he doesn’t carry the top-5 price tag that those players did. Blackmon compares far more favorably to second level receivers we’ve seen recently like DeSean Jackson and Dez Bryant. He’s a play maker who could immediately satiate the Panthers’ needs at WR for a long time, and lessen the eventual impact when Steve Smith decides to hang it up.
The allure for Hurney and Co. could be too much if Blackmon is on the board at their pick. Detroit gave us the rubric for what can happen when you pair a young QB with a young WR, and the results were sensation. The Panthers could do a lot worse than shape their offense around a pairing of Newton and Blackmon.
I’ll admit, Justin Blackmon isn’t a WR who translates to film very well. The fact is, TV feeds don’t really do him justice. While he may not have that elite speed you’d like to see, he does have insanely crisp route running which tends to get him a lot of separation. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably think it all looks way too easy for him, and the truth is- it was.