By Vidur Malik
One of the by-products of the Andrew Luck-Robert Griffin III sweepstakes is that it has taken the spotlight away from the other playmakers in the 2012 draft class. Count Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon among the players that would have gotten top billing if not for the two superstar quarterbacks who will go 1-2.
The two-time Biletnikoff Award-winner is projected to be a top-10 pick and considered the best receiver in the draft along with Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd. Many experts have Blackmon going No. 6 to the Rams, but no matter where he goes, he should be an instant contributor and someone you look out for during your fantasy draft.
Both his own talent and the strong production of recent rookie receivers indicate that Blackmon will make an immediate impact. His size allows him to be an effective route runner and turn short plays into big gains, and he certainly came up big in the biggest moments. He caught eight passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 41-38 win over the Stanford Cardinal in the Fiesta Bowl and caught no fewer than six passes in any game last season.
Just last season, rookie receivers like A.J. Green and Julio Jones showed that they will probably be among the elite receivers in the NFL very soon. Seven rookies caught more than 40 passes last season, including Redskins running back Roy Helu.
There’s no reason why Blackmon can’t be in that category. If he goes to the Rams, he’ll have a chance to become one of quarterback Sam Bradford’s favorite targets. Brandon Lloyd, the team’s top receiver last year, is now with the Patriots, so there’s an opportunity for Blackmon to show he’s an NFL-caliber receiver.
Even if he doesn’t go to the Rams, he’ll have a chance to contribute to his team. Teams like the Packers have shown that if you have a quarterback who can distribute the ball, there can never be too many weapons on an offense. It’s almost certain that the quarterback on Blackmon’s NFL team won’t be able to do that as well as Aaron Rodgers does, but he won’t need to. As long as Blackmon gets a chance to show his talents on short routes and a few deep throws, he can become a legitimate talent and a consistent fantasy producer. He should be available as your fantasy team’s second or third receiver and even if he isn’t a consistent producer, he could still be a good player for your flex spot. Blackmon’s potential is sky-high and he’s clearly on the short list for best receiver in this year’s draft, so he’s definitely someone you should consider making a part of your team.