Weeden touts Blackmon's high value

If the Vikings don't have a shot at USC tackle Matt Kalil, receiver Justin Blackmon provides a nice fallback option. Blackmon's college QB, Brandon Weeden, talked about the receiver's personality and value as a player and draft prospect.

Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon should go early when the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

Blackmon could be the second pick in the draft if the St. Louis Rams hang onto that slot, and it's a move that Blackmon's college quarterback, Brandon Weeden – who is considered a second-round value – fully endorses.

"I'd take him. If I'm the Rams, I'm taking him," Weeden said at the Senior Bowl. "All joking aside, he's a guy that can change an offense. Not only is he physically really gifted, but he gets it. He understands coverages, he understands defenses and he understands how to play football."

Blackmon is one of 65 underclassmen who declared himself eligible for this year's draft. Last year, with Weeden throwing to him, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder finished with 122 receptions for 1,522 yards (12.5 average) and 18 touchdowns. He was even better as a sophomore, with 111 receptions, 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Hie isn't the tallest receiver and nowhere close to the fastest receiver in the draft, but Blackmon might be the most productive.

"You have to have your 8, 10, 12 plays a game where you're trying to get the ball in his hands," Weeden said. "(Other guys) took a lot of pressure off of him, which was a little bit different from (2010). Other guys stepped up. When you've got a guy like that, you'd be stupid not to throw it to him 10 times, maybe 20. Who knows?"

Against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl game, Blackmon was shown on the sidelines and appeared to be upset about not getting the ball enough early in that game. As it turned out, he had eight catches for 186 yards in their bowl victory. Weeden said Blackmon isn't the diva receiver he may have appeared to have been on television in front of a national audience. At least Weeden said Blackmon wasn't busy lobbying his former quarterback for the ball.

"He understands. Obviously he probably thought that, but he'd never come tell me that. He knows how hard it is to play quarterback. I'm not a moron. If he's open and the play is drawn up that way, I'm going to throw it to him," Weeden said. "We never had any issues. He may have been shown on TV. People said at the end of the game that he was showing it. I don't think it was because I wasn't throwing it to him."

Weeden classified Blackmon as a winner that is able to let criticism roll of his broad shoulders and continue to work on his craft and the game at hand.

"I mean this in a great way; don't take it in a bad way. His personality is he doesn't care. Whatever people say about him, write about him, anything – nothing affects the way he thinks," Weeden said. "He doesn't worry about what happens outside of the locker room, which I think is a great trait to have if you're that high-profile of a guy. I've got no problems with him. If anything did come up, I was not afraid to go pull him aside and tell him how I felt. That's part of being a quarterback and having a guy that you count on every Saturday."

Blackmon's big-bodied approach to receiving helped him become one of the most effective third-down targets in the NCAA. He caught 78 percent of the passes thrown his way on third downs and converted 76 percent of them, according to STATS LLC.

While many of the receivers will try to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock doesn't expect any such impressive times from Blackmon when receivers run on Sunday – if Blackmon even runs. Mayock compares him to Minnesota native and Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. Being big and physical is more important to Blackmon's success than trying to take the top off a defense.

Being the Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top receiver each of the last two seasons –joining Michael Crabtree as the only two-time winner of the award – is a testament to Blackmon's effectiveness on the football field. Success follows him in several athletic activities – he was also an all-state basketball player, won the state's long jump title in his only year of competition, is a snowboarder and played roller hockey, as well as playing drums for part of his high school career.

But when it comes to football, Blackmon will likely be a top-five pick. Maybe he will be chosen No. 2 overall by the Rams, as Weeden endorses, or he could be an option for the Vikings one pick later.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



Viking Update Top Stories

\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon should go early when the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

Blackmon could be the second pick in the draft if the St. Louis Rams hang onto that slot, and it's a move that Blackmon's college quarterback, Brandon Weeden – who is considered a second-round value – fully endorses.

\"I'd take him. If I'm the Rams, I'm taking him,\" Weeden said at the Senior Bowl. \"All joking aside, he's a guy that can change an offense. Not only is he physically really gifted, but he gets it. He understands coverages, he understands defenses and he understands how to play football.\"

Blackmon is one of 65 underclassmen who declared himself eligible for this year's draft. Last year, with Weeden throwing to him, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder finished with 122 receptions for 1,522 yards (12.5 average) and 18 touchdowns. He was even better as a sophomore, with 111 receptions, 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Hie isn't the tallest receiver and nowhere close to the fastest receiver in the draft, but Blackmon might be the most productive.

\"You have to have your 8, 10, 12 plays a game where you're trying to get the ball in his hands,\" Weeden said. \"(Other guys) took a lot of pressure off of him, which was a little bit different from (2010). Other guys stepped up. When you've got a guy like that, you'd be stupid not to throw it to him 10 times, maybe 20. Who knows?\"

Against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl game, Blackmon was shown on the sidelines and appeared to be upset about not getting the ball enough early in that game. As it turned out, he had eight catches for 186 yards in their bowl victory. Weeden said Blackmon isn't the diva receiver he may have appeared to have been on television in front of a national audience. At least Weeden said Blackmon wasn't busy lobbying his former quarterback for the ball.

\"He understands. Obviously he probably thought that, but he'd never come tell me that. He knows how hard it is to play quarterback. I'm not a moron. If he's open and the play is drawn up that way, I'm going to throw it to him,\" Weeden said. \"We never had any issues. He may have been shown on TV. People said at the end of the game that he was showing it. I don't think it was because I wasn't throwing it to him.\"

Weeden classified Blackmon as a winner that is able to let criticism roll of his broad shoulders and continue to work on his craft and the game at hand.

\"I mean this in a great way; don't take it in a bad way. His personality is he doesn't care. Whatever people say about him, write about him, anything – nothing affects the way he thinks,\" Weeden said. \"He doesn't worry about what happens outside of the locker room, which I think is a great trait to have if you're that high-profile of a guy. I've got no problems with him. If anything did come up, I was not afraid to go pull him aside and tell him how I felt. That's part of being a quarterback and having a guy that you count on every Saturday.\"

Blackmon's big-bodied approach to receiving helped him become one of the most effective third-down targets in the NCAA. He caught 78 percent of the passes thrown his way on third downs and converted 76 percent of them, according to STATS LLC.

While many of the receivers will try to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock doesn't expect any such impressive times from Blackmon when receivers run on Sunday – if Blackmon even runs. Mayock compares him to Minnesota native and Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. Being big and physical is more important to Blackmon's success than trying to take the top off a defense.

Being the Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top receiver each of the last two seasons –joining Michael Crabtree as the only two-time winner of the award – is a testament to Blackmon's effectiveness on the football field. Success follows him in several athletic activities – he was also an all-state basketball player, won the state's long jump title in his only year of competition, is a snowboarder and played roller hockey, as well as playing drums for part of his high school career.

But when it comes to football, Blackmon will likely be a top-five pick. Maybe he will be chosen No. 2 overall by the Rams, as Weeden endorses, or he could be an option for the Vikings one pick later.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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