Ok, the orange shades have been taken off. The OSU hat has been put away. All that remains are the cold, hard facts and a tall glass of
whiskey objectivity. And still, I believe it would be to Justin Blackmon's benefit to come back for one more year before going to the NFL. First, let me throw out a disclaimer. This all really depends on Brandon Weeden's decision. If he decides to go pro then I think the odds of Blackmon coming back are very slim. With that said, I think Weeden will come back. Right now, he is at best a 5th round draft pick. He needs more experience on the field in order to take the next step. I think he realizes with another year at OSU he can climb into the 2nd round and maybe even the first depending on how much he improves.
So for the sake of argument, let's assume Brandon Weeden stays for his senior year at OSU. Now let's get down to the facts about Blackmon and why I think it is in his best interest to stay one more year in college. Click the jump for the greatest reasoning you have ever seen!
First off, before I start talking about Justin, how certain is anybody that there is even going to be an NFL season next year? Talk of a lockout has been brewing all season long and as the draft comes closer, the smoke is getting heavier. Does Blackmon really want to make himself eligible for the draft and then sit for a year? Why do that when he can compete at the college level, gain valuable experience and sharpen his skills? If anybody needs assurance that a lockout is looming, look no further than Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck. Heisman runner up. The best pro QB prospect in the nation. The likely number one pick overall . He's entering the draft, right? Nope. He announced he is coming back to college for another year. Might this have to do with other reasons as well? Sure. But don't think for a second that the probable NFL lockout didn't play a huge part. Blackmon may want to give him a call.
Now let's talk about projections. Right now, Blackmon is projected as the third wide receiver to be taken behind AJ Green and Julio Jones. Upon doing a little research, I found some pretty relevent stats. In the last ten years, on average, the first receiver in the draft has been chosen 11th. The third receiver in the draft? 22nd. That, my friends, is a huge difference in cash. Some "experts" have projected Blackmon going as high as 15th. Maybe so, maybe no. What I do know is that recent history has told us otherwise. Now then, if Blackmon stays he is almost guaranteed to be the first receiver chosen in the 2012 draft and quite possibly a top 10 pick. So for those saying he would be crazy not to take the money now, I say he stands to make a lot more of it if he stays one more year (even if there is a rookie cap).
Well what if he comes back and gets injured? That is a valid concern. But take a look at Sam Bradford. Despite what others had warned, he decided to come back for his junior year. Unfortunately for him, he did sustain a season ending injury to his throwing shoulder. How much did that affect his draft status? Not one bit. He healed up, had a great combine performance, and was still selected as the first overall pick. He also took out a nice little insurance policy just in case he was injured. Blackmon can do the very same thing in both instances.
Finally, can Blackmon add to his stock by coming back? Absolutely. If you don't believe me, listen to the coaches and media members who used to either play or coach themselves. According to those who know better than any of us, Justin needs to develop better upper body strength, sharpen his route running, and work on his man-on-man receiving...basically he needs to strive to be Dez Bryant. Another year at OSU will help him attain those goals before he takes the jump to compete with the big boys. Another standout year shows the NFL scouts consistency and the experience he gains from that year guarantees a better performance at the NFL combine.
With all this said, if he decides to leave I wish him the best. In the end, he'll do what is right for himself and his family. No doubt this is a very difficult decision to make and I'm sure he is hearing suggestions from every angle. In my opinion, I think he'll come back for the reasons I have stated. It also doesn't hurt that his parents recently decided to move to Oklahoma...I wonder why that decision was made...