One of the more interesting NFL draft day scenarios I’ve come across for the Philadelphia Eagles involves them trading several draft picks and cornerback Asante Samuel to the Saint Louis Rams for their 6th selection in the first round (which they received via their trade with the Washington Redskins). With that 6th overall pick, the Eagles are projected to take Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. This may come as a shock to some, considering the myriad number of weapons the Eagles currently have (DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin, to name a few), but Blackmon would bring something to Philadelphia that they’ve been sorely missing for quite some time; a legitimate red zone threat. The Eagles have tried many different options in the red zone, none of which have necessarily panned out; the most recent example being Riley Cooper. While Cooper is a satisfactory receiver, he is by no means the threat that the Eagles had hoped he would become. There’s also been talk of Philly going after veterans like Plaxico Burress in free agency.
Blackmon, on the other hand, is a monster. Despite the fact that he did not participate in most drills at the NFL scouting combine due to a tender hamstring, the 6’1” 215 pound behemoth certainly impressed at the Oklahoma State pro day on March 9. His best 40 time at the workout was clocked between 4.41 and 4.46, which is impressive for a man of his stature, but will by no means allow him to simply run past defenders. He added a 35 inch vertical leap and 10’4” broad jump, as well. Blackmon is by far the top receiver in this year’s draft, which is why most mock drafts have him going in the top 10. There’s a good chance that he goes even before the number 6 pick, however.
The 22 year old junior out of Oklahoma State caught 121 balls for 1552 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2011 alone. For his career, those numbers balloon to 252 catches, 3,564 yards and a whopping 40 touchdowns. That equates to just over 14 yards per catch and 1 touchdown every 6.3 receptions in his college career. After taking into consideration his size, I would say that Blackmon more than qualifies as a legitimate red zone threat. In addition to monster numbers, Blackmon also won the Fred Biletnikoff award in 2010 and 2011, which is given to annually to the nation’s best collegiate wide receiver.
Blackmon uses his size and strength to separate himself from opposing defenders and get in position to make catches. He has the quickness to beat defenders off the ball and get to his spot, and the strength to break tackles. The leaping ability he displayed at his pro day also shows that he has the ability to get up in the air to catch the ball at its highest point. All of these things are imperative in the red zone, and he excels at each and every one of them.
This is a very unlikely scenario, given the weapons the Eagles already have on their roster and the glaring needs the team faces at other positions, but it is an interesting scenario, nonetheless.