Candidate Chronicles

Blackmon has the strength and frame size to get in position to make catches and he doesn't drop balls...Weeden has been working on taking snaps under center.

Here's some breaking news: The Cleveland Browns need a playmaking wide receiver and stability at quarterback.

That just blew your mind, eh?

Lately, Alabama-running-back-Trent-Richardson-to-Cleveland-with-the-fourth-pick is gaining in mock draft popularity. Yet there is a school that is producing two players that can fill those aforementioned needs: Oklahoma State.

Wide receiver Justin Blackmon and quarterback Brandon Weeden are in play for the Browns' two first-round picks at Nos. 4 and No. 22.

"(Blackmon and Weeden) helped produced the greatest season in Oklahoma State in 108 years of playing football," said Terry Tush, publisher for Scout.com's Go Pokes. "People were thrilled they finished 12-1, won the Big 12, won a Fiesta Bowl, which is the first BCS championship in school history.

"A lot of people are excited to see what type of careers they're going to have in the NFL."

Blackmon is considered the draft's top wide receiver. The Browns need one of those — badly — so the 6-foot-1, 211-pound receiver is in play at No. 4. In the last two seasons, Blackmon has produced consistent numbers. In 2010, he caught 111 balls for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns and last season he had 121 catches for 1,522 yards with 18 touchdowns. He won the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's best receiver, the last two seasons.

"The first two years he hardly played," Tush said. "The last two years he's worked himself into a spot where he showed he needed to be on the field. He made the plays and proved to everybody he's not a good receiver, but a great receiver."

Blackmon has the strength and frame size to get in position to make catches and he doesn't drop balls. But, Blackmon does not have the blazing speed like other wide outs in this draft. He has been compared to Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree.

"He has the ability and strength and more than that, a desire to want to be a great player," Tush said. "He will do the necessary things to be the man. He'll work hard and make the right decisions and do the necessary things to become that No. 1 wide receiver."

Blackmon's quarterback the last two seasons was Weeden. After trying to make it in Major League Baseball, he turned his attention to football. At 28 years old, some have been concerned about his age, but the 6-foot-3, 221-pound quarterback has the look of an NFL signal caller.

"He's a leader on the field," Tush said. "All the players respect him and not just because he was five or six years older, but just the way he handled himself. He's only played football the last two years, but he wasn't touched much. He has a 21-year old body and that's something people miss. I could see him playing in the NFL 10 years already."

In two seasons as a starter, Weeden was 750-for-1,075 passing for 9,004 yards with 71 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Weeden is a pocket passer. He isn't very mobile but makes up for it in arm strength and accuracy.

"His arm is incredible," Tush said. "Jon Gruden had him on his TV show on ESPN and he even marveled about his arm strength and ability to make all the throws. People around here just got used to it. That's going to be a big adjustment for Oklahoma State fans next season. Not many quarterbacks can make the types of throws Weeden can."

In addition to his immobility, Oklahoma State ran the spread offense. Weeden was rarely under center. Since the end of the season, Weeden has been working on taking snaps under center and working on his three-, five- and seven-step drops.

"Everything I heard, NFL people have been impressed with him," Tush said.

Are Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren among those NFL people who are impressed with Weeden and his college teammate?

We'll find out Thursday night.


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