Now I know what you guys are probably thinking. "Oh boy, here we go again. PantherTrain is yet again beating the Justin Blackmon drum." Please hear me out. I know I have mentioned Blackmon a ton throughout various posts, but in this thread I thought I would delve more into why Blackmon might be the most logical choice for the Panthers come draft time. Now keep in mind, I am writing this trying to think how Rivera and Hurney will approach this situation and how they look long term and at the overall big picture.
1. The most obvious reason would be overall talent and stats. Blackmon is a stats beast. Last season his stat line looked like this; 111 REC, 1782 yds, 16.1 avg yds per reception and 20 TDs. This season so far his stat line looks like this; 87 REC, 1039 yds, 11.9 avg yds per reception (could be better) and 12 TDs. Those stats are just amazing. To put that in perspective, here are AJ Green's stats from last year in college; 57 REC, 848 yds, 14.9 yds per reception and 9 TDs. As you can see, Blackmon clearly blows AJ Green out of the water as far as his stat line is concerned.
2. MONEY MONEY and you guessed it MONEY. With the rookie wage scale it just makes a lot more sense to draft high risk/high reward type of players with insane potential. If I had to take a educated guess, I would say we will be picking in the top 7 and with the other teams picking ahead of us with way bigger needs than WR. I can easily see Blackmon falling to us at pick 6 or 7 and thanks to the rookie wage scale, 1st round draft picks that are picked between 5 and 7 will only get paid in the range of 12-15 million. If we go after a high end free agent say a Vincent Jackson or Dwayne Bowe, they will demand double that amount and that would weaken our salary cap and would hinder us from signing a quality DT, especially if we have to worry about re signing J Stew. So financially, it makes perfect sense. Drafting Blackmon could save us atleast 10 million from having to go out and sign a free agent that will demand double the amount we would be paying Blackmon.
3. Steve Smith's age and lack of elite talent in our current WR corps. Steve Smith has 3 years at best left in the tank. Aside from Steve Smith, what we have left at WR are huge ?s, thats right, question marks. Armanti Edwards looked downright bad in his last pre season outing dropping passes all over the place, and easy passes. Nannee is getting somewhat better I suppose, but does anyone honestly think of him as our next true No 1 WR after Smith? Gettis had a solid year last year but we still have no idea what we have with him and how he will come back from his injury. Pilares is an unknown. Lafell, I like a lot and think he is by far our best WR aside from Smitty but not sold he is elite no 1 material. Bottom line, draft Blackmon. Have him be our No 2 out there with Smitty, then when its Smitty's time to retire Blackmon becomes our No 1 and either Gettis or Lafell becomes our solid No 2 option.
4. Last but not least.. Lack of talent elsewhere in the draft. Now if I had my choice, I would draft a stud defensive tackle faster than you can say Yes We Cam. But the sad reality is, this draft just lacks a good, elite DT. I just see no reason whatsoever why we should reach for a DT in the 1st round when a slew of DTs will likely be avaliable in the 2nd round to choose from due to lack of 1st round type talent at the position. Look, I know and we all know DT and defense is by far our number 1 need. But we have to go BPA in this draft (aside from QB) and right now Blackmon defnitley looks to be BPA. I could also live with Morris Claiborne or Dre Kirkpatrick. But when you do the math, use the process of elimination, the bottome line is; drafting Blackmon just makes too much dollars & sense to pass up on and when it's all said and done I think Hurney and Rivera will feel the same way.
Here is my ideal senario on what the Carolina Panthers can do next season to make a huge impact. Draft Justin Blackmon, sign a good DT like Paul Soliai, have Soliai and Ron Edwards start and have Fua and Mcclain be back ups, have a healthy Jon Beason back, have a healthy Thomas Davis back (easier said then done), re sign Jeremy Shockey, re sign Jonathan Stewart, and have Steve Smith and Justin Blackmon as our No 1 and No 2 WR.
If all this can happen next season. There is no reason whatsoever why we cannot win the division.