Justin Blackmon, the Oklahoma State product and consensus top ten pick, garners considerable debate from supporters and detractors. While the majority of prospect mavens have him as the best wide receiver in the draft and an elite NFL prospect, there remains a sizable contingent of fans that doubt his ability to translate his game to the NFL; there seems to be a mischaracterization of Blackmon as a "possession" receiver without game-changing ability. Why this is, I am not sure, but I believe Justin Blackmon has Pro-Bowl potential in the NFL.
For fans that do not like Blackmon as a prospect, the player I most often see him compared to is Anquan Boldin. While Blackmon and Boldin share similar height (6-1), and weight (215/223), Blackmon possesses far greater speed and playmaking ability than Boldin ever did at the collegiate level; Boldin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds, while Blackmon completed it in 4.46 seconds. That difference is an eternity for receivers, and it showed in their production; Boldin was not nearly as productive as a college player as Blackmon, despite playing against inferior competition in the FBS school Florida State.
Blackmon, on the other hand, has been incredibily productive, amassing an incredible 232 receptions, 3304 yards, and 38 touchdowns over the 2010 and 2011 seasons, winning two consecutive Biletnikoff Awards in the process. Despite being the focal point of the Oklahoma State offense and having opposing defenses keying on him every time he stepped on the field, he produced, game after game.
Blackmon's tape shows a receiver who is fast, agile, and powerful, with tremendous body control and the ability to snatch the ball well away from his frame. While not overly tall, he is powerfully built and it shows on film, as he consistently uses his strength to box out defenders and get tough yards after the catch. He displays very good route running skills and an eye for soft spots in coverages, enabling him to make the big plays. His explosiveness is evident.
These are some select quotes from other draft watchers and scouts on Blackmon:
Blackmon is a dangerous playmaker. He is a threat to score on any reception. Blackmon is extremely well built and is physical with defensive backs. He has the dual ability to be a possession receiver and a deep threat who stretches the field. He breaks tackles and gets yards after contact.
Blackmon projects as a starter immediately as a rookie, and it shouldn't be long before he is a No. 1 receiver. He has the skill set to be in contention for the Pro Bowl annually.
Possesses strong and natural mitts that swallow the ball. Aggressive and attacks the ball. Can snatch the ball out of the air without breaking stride. Shows excellent body control and makes catch outside of the frame look effortless. Uses strength and frame well to shield defenders from the ball.
Possesses enough top-end speed to get behind coverage. Tracks the deep ball extremely well and displays the size, strength and leaping ability to win one-on-one down field battles. Not overly elusive after the catch but a strong runner that can break tackles and pick up extra yards. Flashes an effective straight-arm.
Plays with good intensity and fearless working the middle of the field. Shows above-average field and sideline awareness. Fights for yards after the catch. Has the frame and strength to be an effective downfield blocker. Does not always give great effort in this area, though.
He lit up opponents consistently in '10 with 111 receptions for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns. Blackmon gained over 100 yards receiving and at least one touchdown in all 12 games in which he played in 2010, including 5-157-2 against a tough Nebraska squad (playing against top CB Prince Amukamara) and 9-172-2 in the team's 36-10 dismantling of Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.
Blackmon didn't let up in 2011, accumulating 113 catches for 1,337 yards and 15 touchdowns during the regular season in helping the Cowboys earn a trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
-NFL Draft Scout
Several writers note that some scouts are not sold on Blackmon, but most of these concerns were due to his perceived lack of speed, which has since been quieted by his (post-adjustment) 4.46 40 yard dash. Other concerns included unpolished route running, which he showed improved skills in on his pro day, and separation skills.
While not a perfect prospect, Blackmon has elite potential, and is entirely worthy of a top 5 or 10 draft pick. The Rams would be wise to draft him at 6 if he is available. Could he bust? Absolutely. But his upside is huge; I have heard comparisons to Both Anquan Boldin and Terrell Owens for Blackmon, due to his strength and physical style of play, but he is faster than both of those players. This combination could lead to a perennial pro-bowl type of wide receiver, which the Rams desperately need. I hope to be able to watch Blackmon develop in a Rams uniform.