If the Kansas City Chiefs are interested in trading up from the 11th pick in the first round of the NFL draft, there’s one player worth doing so for, and that is Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Through a threefold combination of individual talent, good fit for the Chiefs and relative value at his position, Blackmon is worth swapping choices in the first round and giving up a first-rounder in 2013.
Blackmon played in a high-powered system at Oklahoma State and its star quarterback Brandon Weeden. But unlike a lot of spread-the-field offenses, the Cowboy passing game was heavily oriented to Blackmon. Therefore it’s fair to ask whether Blackmon really benefitted from Weeden or whether the reverse was true.
The scouting report on Blackmon compiled by ESPN Insiders is effusive in its praise for Blackmon’s physical style. He can muscle off the ball and beat press coverage. He goes over the middle without fear, is adept at using his body to shield a defender for the ball and does a good job adjusting to poorly thrown balls. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a receiver, it’s a steep drop from Blackmon to the next best choices on the board, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd and Baylor’s Kendall Wright.
Is there anything not to like? Well, the scouts are concerned about what they see as a lack of explosiveness in Blackmon’s game, both off the ball and on his cuts. He has to rely on his physical strength, as well as a savvy use of head fakes and footwork to get open. I understand the concern, but I think it’s fair to point out that the Dallas Cowboys once drafted a receiver who was fearless over the middle, physically tough, but lacked explosiveness, and Michael Irvin still turned out okay.
Blackmon would fit in well in the Kansas City offense. Dwayne Bowe would still be the primary target, and while Jonathan Baldwin is an up-and-comer, it’s easy to see Blackmon quickly becoming one of the best possession receivers in the game, something that can’t be overvalued on a team that wants to run the ball and convert 3rd-and-4s to keep drives along.
ESPN’s Scouts Inc, currently ranks Blackmon as the #7 player overall, though I have seen him as high as #3 depending on what list you’re looking at. I suspect the price to move into the top five would be prohibitive, but if it becomes a question of moving 3-4 slots, then it’s an option Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli would have to seriously consider.
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