NFL Draft Scouting Report: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Justin Blackmon“Originally recruited as a basketball player, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is still learning the game of football, and remains quite raw in terms of route running, on-field awareness, and receiver technique. Blackmon has been incredibly productive in his 2 full seasons as a starter, amassing more than 100 catches in both 2010 and 2011. Blackmon missed just one game over the course of the last 2 seasons, due to an off-field DUI arrest.”

“The best aspects of Blackmon include his non-stop work ethic, competitive nature, aggressive on field presence, dominating length and strength at the receiver position, as well as consistent effort as a blocker. Blackmon has a self deprecating sense of humor, unassuming attitude off the field, and has grown into a leadership role at Oklahoma State. Should be able to contribute year one, and has a high ceiling for development. Depending upon how well he runs at the NFL Combine, Blackmon should be drafted among the top 10 overall.”

PLAYER COMPARISON
Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins
PROJ. DRAFT POSITION
Top Ten
INJURY HISTORY
Minor ankle injury in 2010   
Missed 1 half due to concussionary symptoms   
No major structural damage   
CAREER ACOLADES
2010 and 2011 Biletnikoff Award winner   

2010 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year   
2010 and 2011 1st team AP All American
KEY STATS
111 receptions, 1,782 yds, 20 TDs in 2010   

18 of last 23 games w/ 100 yds or more receiving   
NCAA FBS record, 14 consecutive 100 yd rec. games
113 receptions, 1,336 yds, 15 TDs in 2011

Background/Character
Ultra competitive attitude, is only satisfied with victory, and gives great effort as a route runner or as a blocker. Leads by example, and coaches have attested to his leadership qualities; former offensive coordinator said on Blackmon’s leadership and work ethic, “[Blackmon] is a hard worker now. He gets in there and leads by example and is not afraid to open his mouth.” Did have an off-field DUI arrest, only run-in with the law to date. By all accounts, Blackmon is a good person who simply made a bad decision. Blackmon addressed the media the same week in which the incident occurred, owning responsibility for his actions, apologizing for his mistake, and promising that this was not who he is or how he was raised.

Though brash, aggressive, and demonstrative on the field, Blackmon has a softer, more humble side off the field. Befriended a 9-year old cancer patient and has been influential in her recovery. Earlier in his college career, Blackmon showed noticeable signs of displeasure or disgust on the sidelines when the ball was not thrown his way. Now, Blackmon seems to understand his role, and has bought into the team mentality.
Athletic Ability

Elite physical athlete and specimen; has a sculpted and muscular frame, along with very good length. Blackmon maintains great balance early in route patterns, not allowing defenders to re-route him easily, as well as manuvering underneath on crossing patterns through traffic. Powerfully built receiver that simply outmuscles defenders to the football; plays bigger than his 6’1 frame suggests, effectively bodying up defenders, and going up for high passes. Blackmon has great change of direction and flexibility, dropping his pad level at contact and exploding away from defenders; hard, forward lean and aggression as a runner works against Blackmon’s balance, as he struggles to keep his feet down field after multiple open field moves.

Although powerfully built, Blackmon still maintains a lean enough frame that could conceivably add 5-10 lbs without losing speed, explosion, or agility. Could mature into an Anquan Boldin type of wideout with overpowering size, strength, and explosion. Directly after slant or dig pattern receptions, Blackmon displays great agility and change of direction by being able to consistently make the safety defender or helping linebacker miss in space; can use a spin move or inside juke with equal success.        

Running Ability
Blackmon’s powerful build allows him to shrug off arm tackles with ease; impressive foot speed, combined with natural open field running skills, make Blackmon a dangerous run-after-catch wideout. Is able to consistently make the first tackler miss with either a stiff arm, or sidestep juke move. Unrefined and raw in terms of open field fluidity, Blackmon’s suddenness and explosion are what make him such a dangerous runner. Will flash spectacular moves in space, but still has not fully developed his tremendous physicality and explosive skillset.

Out of control as a runner, Blackmon overexerts himself in short bursts, taking defenders off guard and  outmuscling defensive backs for extra yardage. Runs with a powerful forward lean and runs through arm tacklers; forward lean leads to lost balance and lack of true long speed. Needs to clean up running form, and cut down on wasted movement. Must improve ball security and tuck ball away in traffic. Carries ball loose and away from his body, fumbling inside the red zone on multiple occasions. Has next-level burst and explosion up field after the catch, and gets up to top speed very fast.       


Receiving Ability

Has an incredible catching radius due to his long arms and powerful hands, able to snatch ball away from his body and in traffic. Adjusts extremely well to off-target throws, attacking the ball aggressively and away from his body. Able to climb the ladder and make high-point grabs with 34′ arm reach. Showcases elite body control and ability to box-out defenders for the jump ball, getting the most out of his, as mentioned earlier, elite physical frame. Doesn’t show polish as a route runner against zone coverage, not being able to correctly diagnose and locate the holes in the defense.

Mentally, Blackmon is still learning the position and is relatively raw in terms of mid-route adjustments; never has Blackmon run the back shoulder fade, which has gained effectiveness at the NFL level and continues to trend in the pass happy league. Concentration is an issue that must be addressed, as Blackmon will have 1-2 focus drops per game; these drops normally come on deep fade/go patterns, deep down field. Attacks the football with his very good reach and length, is very aggressive at the point of the catch, and has the strength to rip the ball away from defenders in tight coverage. Avoids big hits, but will go after the ball confidently across the middle of the field

 Receiving Technique
Most of Blackmon’s production comes from crossing patterns such as drags, slants, ins, digs, and post patterns. Lacks precision on slant, post, dig patterns, consistently rounding off his breaks. Has homerun threat capabiltiy on deep fade route and deep post. At his best on quick hitter screens, jailbreak screens, and drag routes where he can create yardage after the catch. Dominant red-zone target that has perfected the back shoulder fade route; works hard to stack the corner and has natural sense of where the back of the endzone is.

Doesn’t show polish with his hands against press, using an over top swim move while powering thru the contact. Has the foot speed off the line to set up his man, and keep himself clean in his release. Struggles to separate with his route running when the corner hand fights mid-route, being physical throughout route stem. Doesn’t release with consistent explosion, will run less than full speed when given a clearing route.  Underrated 1-on-1 blocker in space, uses length to dominate the point of attack, while also having the hip burst to wall off defenders from the ball.

Summary
Originally recruited as a basketball player, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is still learning the game of football, and remains quite raw in terms of route running, on-field awareness, and receiver technique. Blackmon has been incredibly productive in his 2 full seasons as a starter, amassing more than 100 catches in both 2010 and 2011. Blackmon missed just one game over the course of the last 2 seasons, due to an off-field DUI arrest. As mentioned in the character section however, this appears to be the exception and not the rule. Blackmon is a hard working, very driven young athlete, that maintains elite physical attributes such as length, power, and explosiveness.

Blackmon is a dominant red-zone target, especially near the goal line where he can attack corners with either the quick slant or goal-line fade. Has the vertical leaping ability and arm length to snag balls high and away frm defenders, naturally creating separation with his sheer frame and body type. Snatches the football away from his body with suddenness and power, outmuscling opposing cornerbacks at the point of the catch. Does have the occasional focus drop and has ball security issues looming, bringing into question his on field focus level. Violent runner after the catch, Blackmon accelerates and explodes thru arm tackles. Has the ability to make multiple defenders miss and is dangerous after the catch. Needs to clean up his running form, and cut down on wasted motion. Must work on becoming a more crisp route runner; needs to be more decisive with his cuts, sharper on his breaks, and do a better job of creating separation mid-route. Improved hand techniques at the line of scrimmage, as well as a smoother running motion will allow Blackmon to run his routes under control, with better balance, and also decelerate quicker. Gives consistently good effort on the perimeter as a  blocker, utilizing his arm reach and suddenness effectively.

The best aspects of Blackmon include his non-stop work ethic, competitive nature, aggressive on field presence, dominating length and strength at the receiver position, as well as consistent effort as a blocker. Blackmon has a self deprecating sense of humor, unassuming attitude off the field, and has grown into a leadership role at Oklahoma State. Should be able to contribute year one, and has a high ceiling for development. Depending upon how well he runs at the NFL Combine, Blackmon should be drafted among the top 10 overall.

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