Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Would Rams be reaching for Blackmon?
By Mike Sando
Jerry from Sacramento reached out this week to take issue with Justin Blackmon as a projected first-round draft choice for his favorite team, the St. Louis Rams.
"He's a good player, not a great player," Jerry wrote. "At No. 6, the Rams need a great player."
Jerry makes a worthwhile point in relation to the sixth overall choice. The word "good" resonated with me because one of the draft analysts I've followed over the years, Nolan Nawrocki, recently used the same term to describe Blackmon in his 2012 Pro Football Weekly Draft Preview.
"A good, accomplished football player," Nawrocki wrote, nonetheless projecting Blackmon as a top-10 talent.
Jerry thinks the Rams would come out ahead targeting Stanford guard David DeCastro, who scouts have compared to seven-time Pro Bowler Steve Hutchinson. He thinks Blackmon would then fall far enough in the first round for the Rams to consider trading up from the second round into range to select him in the 20s.
"I see a lot of people saying the Rams will take Blackmon but that is purely filling a need and not marrying need and value," Jerry wrote. "With the new CBA in place, drafting a guard high is now reasonable. Besides, I don’t even think Blackmon is the best WR in the draft. It is Michael Floyd. Just give him a free chauffeur and he’ll stay out of trouble."
In a best-case scenario, the Rams' first-round pick would start right away and score touchdowns. Blackmon would presumably fit that profile, but what if DeCastro or someone else were an appreciably better player? That is the question Jerry is raising.
The Rams' obvious need for playmaking help could tempt them to reach in this draft. As the Rams build up their roster, they should enjoy greater flexibility in the draft. They recently signed former Philadelphia Eagles receiver Steve Smith. They have a visit scheduled with Jerome Simpson, free-agent receiver from the Cincinnati Bengals, Jim Thomas reports.
As for Blackmon, the chart from ESPN Stats & Information shows his production falling from 2010 to 2011 on passes traveling at least 20 yards past the line of scrimmage.
However, Blackmon caught 30 of 36 red zone passes thrown to him in 2011, scoring 12 touchdowns on those plays. His 20 touchdown receptions on red zone throws are the most among college players since 2010.