The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a story in Saturday’s paper about Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon’s Friday Pro Day, written before news broke that the Rams and Redskins had agreed on Thursday night to swap first-round picks.
We already knew that Blackmon ran well at his Pro Day, but the Post-Dispatch report makes clear that the Rams like a lot more about Blackmon than just how fast he can run 40 yards in a straight line. Rams receivers coach Ray Sherman was on the scene alongside director of college scouting John Mancini and director of player personnel Lawrence McCutcheon, and Sherman offered some lofty comparisons about what kind of receiver Blackmon can become.
“I thought he ran well,” Sherman said. “I thought he caught the ball well; he was very good. . . . I coached a Hall of Famer in Jerry Rice. Everybody said he wasn’t fast, and all I know is when he caught [the ball] nobody could catch him. And I went against guys like Michael Irvin. Those guys are football players. This guy — Justin Blackmon — is a football player.”
That sounds like a football player the Rams would love to take with the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft, but the question now becomes whether Blackmon will still be there at No. 6. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and Browns coach Pat Shurmur were both at Blackmon’s Pro Day, and Shurmur made a specific point of approaching Blackmon afterward and telling him how much he liked what he saw. With the Vikings picking third and the Browns picking fourth, there’s a good chance that Blackmon will be off the board before the Rams pick sixth.
The other player the Rams are said to be enamored with, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, also may go to the Vikings, Browns or, at No. 5, the Buccaneers. So the Rams may have traded down too far to get either of the players they’re reportedly most interested in. Mel Kiper suggested on Friday that both Blackmon and Claiborne will be gone, and that the Rams may be choosing between Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff and Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
For the Rams, this trade was about a lot more than one player, and this trade will be defined not simply by what they do with the sixth overall pick but also with what the Rams do with the other two first-round picks and the second-round pick they got from the Redskins. That’s good, because the Rams may find that the players they’re hoping for at No. 6 aren’t there for the taking.