When you think of physicality on the football field, it’s a running back barrelling through a hole, linebackers blowing up plays in the backfield, or linemen battling it out in trenches. But RJ Blanton of Notre Dame brings that added physical play that few NFL cornerbacks can consistently offer.
Blanton was a headache for receivers all week long, especially the smaller bodied ones like Kevin Hardy of Citadel (more on him later) or Tim Benford of Tennessee Tech.
For a prospect like Blanton though, who’s more of a situational fit depending on the defense of a potential NFL defense. Not every team covets physicality in corner backs, which could have an impact on where Blanton is drafted. However, his play this week and constantly disrupting routes, timing, and comfort-ability this week surely was notice by NFL teams.
One play in particular this week really optimized how Blanton’s week has gone so far and what his potential role in the NFL could be. As receiver Kevin Hardy of Citadel attempted a quick inside slant in the red zone drills, Blanton closed quickly on the route, knocked the ball away quickly, and knocked Hardy to the ground., stepping over him while Hardy was on the ground.
Hardy, being closer to the 180 range and one of the smaller-built receivers here was noticeably disappointed with the play and had a few words for Blanton. Nothing major, but it seemed clear that he got into the head of Hardy and other receivers and was THE guy receivers didn’t want to be matched-up against this year.
“I just leave it on the field, you know. It’s nothing, really, just how I play.”
That style of play of jockeying for control at the line of scrimmage, knocking receivers off their line, and most importantly, getting in an opposing receivers head will guide Blanton well on his NFL future. Still with a long process ahead of him, especially focusing on the NFL Combine and working to show he has some speed to go with that build and power would go a long way into moving him from a situational and system fit cornerback to one that’s coveted by every NFL team.