With the recent detractors of Justin Blackmon coming out of the woodshed, the question of drafting a wide receiver has once again reared it's ugly head to CSR and spread through topics like wild fire. The idea of Blackmon falling to the Panthers has some fans salivating at the idea of giving Newton a new weapon, but there's actually some who think Hurney should pass. These opinions all seem to focus on the elephant in the room that everyone avoids when they praise Blackmon: His speed and size may not translate to the NFL. Rotoworld's Josh Norris even went so far as to list Justin Blackmon first in his analysis of the ten most overrated players in the upcoming draft, claiming that the two time Biletnikoff Award winner will be severely limited due to his lack of deep-threat ability.
The Panthers have already scheduled to meet with Blackmon, so it seems Hurney's doing his homework and exploring all possibilities. It would be haphazard to ignore the possibility of JB falling, so as true fans we owe it to ourselves to do our homework too. I strongly suggest Son of a Newton's post on the Air Coryell Offense to anyone who hasn't read it so that we can share at least a common understanding of our new, anti-foxball offense.
We'll weigh the choices after the jump.
Justin Blackmon's Pro Day(per walterfootball):
6'1" | 215 lbs | 40 time: 4.46 | Broad Jump: 10'3" | Vertical Leap: 35"
It's no secret that OSU has a fast track, but I feel that it's important to add that some scouts think it may take as much as one tenth of a second off Blackmon's forty time (per ProFootballTalk). It's no wonder Blackmon's hamstring felt a lot better that day seeing as how running a 4.50-4.55 at the Combine would garner the media's immediate attention, which these days is never good when unless your name is Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.
Let's face it: Blackmon isn't ever going to blow by an NFL corner on a streak route and he could stand to grow a couple inches. This is what scares me the most when considering JB as a prospect, and it's only amplified by the fact that he doesn't fit into an Air Coryell Offense that wants to stretch the field. A prospect like Stephen Hill or Kendall Wright blow JB away in athletic ability and would be much better fits for our system, but I think this discounts 2 pieces of information we know about the Panthers:
1) Hurney isn't the type to take an athlete before an actual football player.
2) We have the maniacal genius that is Chudzinski as an offensive coordinator. With help from Cam, Chud was able to put life back into Shockey, Olsen, and Smith's career and even give some fans the idea that Lafell could be a number 2 receiver.
I don't mean to boast, but I have full confidence in our coaching staff and front office and I genuinely think they are some of the best in the business. It's no longer an argument on if players will fit our system, it's how we will fit our system to the players we have. The quicker we stop trying to find clones of our star players, the quicker we will understand the new philosophy behind moves such as adding Tolbert when we already have Jonathan Stewart. I don't doubt that if Blackmon's route running, physicality, and hands translate into the NFL then he will find similar levels of success with Chud's ability to utilize strengths. Blackmon's body control, ability to know when to go up for a ball, and ability to break tackles is going to take him farther in this league than 4.40 speed ever will.
In his two years as a starter Blackmon had accounted for 232 receptions, 38 receiving TDs, and 3300 receiving yards showing not only consistency, but showing that he was consistently the best at his position by winning the Biletnikoff Award 2 years in a row. Most like to point to a weak conference and inflated stats by a pass happy team, but that would discredit JB's productions in bowl games and the fact that he can produce those numbers when given the opportunity. In his two bowl games he had 17 receptions, 303 receiving yards, and 5 TDs despite teams keying in on him.
Beyond timing how fast he can run in spandex, I just don't see the evidence that concludes he's not a risk worth taking considering he displayed the definition of elite throughout his career. On top of that he's a great guy without the character concerns that Michael "Double DUI" Floyd brings to a team and judging by his style he seems like he was open to learning from Dez Bryant. He's not an AJ Green or Julio Jones, but he's a playmaker and the best that this draft has to offer. As much as I hope he drops, I think it's teams outside of the top ten picks saying he's not a top ten talent in hopes that he will drop to them.
Feel free to leave any constructive criticism or reasons for agreeing in the comments.