Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Apr 2012

Cosell Talks: Blackmon or Floyd?

Greg Cosell looks at film for the top two WR prospects in this year's draft, Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd, and brings up some interesting points about the development of the NFL game over the last few years. Are possession receivers worth more now than they were a few years ago? Is Blackmon still an elite prospect if he doesn't have top-line vertical speed? I'll point out that our own Matt Waldman, in his Rookie Scouting Portfolio 2012, makes the same determination as Cosell: Floyd, not Blackmon, is the top wide receiver in this draft class.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 17 Apr 2012

27 comments, Last at 11 Apr 2013, 11:42am by Anonymous12


by Drakos (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 12:56pm

I know I haven't been paying that much attention to all the pre-draft analysis but are Cosell and Waldman the first to say that Floyd is better? When I read Waldman's article this morning it seemed like Floyd over Blackmon came out of nowhere as I had thought that Blackmon was far and away the consensus best prospect.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 1:07pm

After seeing both play a few times in college, I think Floyd is better. Floyd is a little bigger, might have better top-line speed, and has that unteachable ability to use his body to shield the defender while catching the ball at its highest point. His DUIs and underage drinking are a flag, to be sure, but it's far more rare to see an athlete's career derailed by DUIs than by things like weed, guns, or a surly attitude.

I wouldn't use a top-10 pick on Blackmon. While he's certainly been productive in college, he came from an offense that produces huge receiver numbers, and he doesn't seem like he has a particular ability that would make him an elite receiver in the NFL.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 2:01pm

Blackmon gets criticized for struggling against good CBs, but even in the Iowa State game, where he was supposedly shut down by ISU's #1 CB, he had a 10-99-1TD. He thrashed Stanford and KSU, and played well against Oklahoma and Texas, who supposedly had the good defenses in the Big(12-2).

by Dan :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 1:24pm

Over the past two seasons, Blackmon has 38 receiving TDs (the most in college football) and 16 receptions of 40+ yards (which is 2nd behind only Houston's Patrick Edwards). How did he make all those big plays if he's just a possession receiver? Playmaker Score is going to love him; could someone at FO try to reconcile the tape and the numbers?

by Chris K (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 1:41pm

Floyd over Blackmon did come largely out of nowhere, and is quite ill supported so far as I can tell. Blackmon was simply a better player than Floyd in college, especially against players that would become high end cornerback prospects. Blackmon can be incredibly dominant even against them. Blackmon often burned them as well, speed is not the only thing that makes you able to beat a corner for the long gain. Blackmon catches better, gets open better, and is far more dominant. Michael Floyed is simply the flavor of the month. Blackmon isn't as good as last year's prospect AJ Green, but he might be on the same level as Julio Jones, and Floyd is nowhere near that.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 3:14pm

Blackmon was more productive than Floyd in college, but how would you call him a better player? Blackmon had 28 year old Brandon Weeden throwing him the ball. Floyd caught 100 balls from Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees, and Andrew Hendrix, all of whom pale in comparison. I'm sure our impressions of these players would be vastly different if they switched QBs.

Blackmon always played bigger than his size. I'm curious how well that translates to the pro game.

by Chris K. (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 5:16pm

I've watched tape on them. Specifically, I saw a lot of tape on Blackmon while scouting top CB prospects esp. Amukamara. When watching Floyd against corners, he was much worse, though far from bad. Add in the greater production for Blackmon, and it is fair to say he was more dominant.

Weeden is of course much better than those Notre Dame QBs, but not enough better to make up the difference.

Blackmon's skill at playing bigger than his size should translate very well into the pro's because it is extremely well developed, and he isn't really small. (6'1" 215 as per ESPN). You can consider him a big target.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 5:30pm

How much tape and, more importantly, from where? How are you getting coach's film access?

by Chris K. (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 12:31am

Unfortunately I have to scrounge up footage of corners in exactly the same way as everyone else; I have no inside access. Luckily, there have been some other people who did most of the hard work, and I was able to find enough using search engines. It isn't exactly coaches film, but I can often see the entire matchup between the receiver and the corner. I lucked into finding an especially extensive one of Blackmon vs. Amukamara on Youtube last year (It was in the midst of extensively scouting Amukamara). Unfortunately, I didn't see it on a quick search there today. Since then I have watched a significant amount of lesser footage on the issue. You have to watch a lot of junk to get enough good footage to grade a corner. Luckily you only need a little bit of good footage on the corner receiver matchup if you know the quality of the corner to tell how well the receiver does against them. Most parts of a receiver can be discerned if you merely watch all the pass plays in some games if the footage is ok.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 12:52pm

Define "enough" film? How many different games? How many different seasons? How many total reps? What metrics are you using to grade these players?

With all due respect, why should I take your opinion using much poorer resources (film quality, experience) than the opinion of a guy who's been watching coach's film for the past 30+ years?

by Chris K. (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 5:25pm

I don't really care about arguing from authority. The quality of your resources does not matter nearly as much as the quality of your work. Many people with access to high quality resources do not use them properly. My word about their potential is surely not proof; take it for what it is worth. A considerable amount of work and thinking has gone into my opinion, but I could easily be wrong. I'm just not.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 7:34pm

"A considerable amount of work and thinking has gone into my opinion . . "

And I'm asking very specifically how much work? Did you look at 2009 Floyd? How many games? How many reps? If you're going to hype up your opinion, I'm curious from what basis it comes from?

What proof do we have of the quality of your work?

by Led :: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 3:36pm

This is OT, but has FO released its SackSEER article for this years draft yet?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 4:54am

Pretty sure they haven't.

by Chip :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 8:52am

They haven't. And it won't be pretty.

I did a back of the envelope and this year's class is terrible. No elite talent and not much depth. The highest rated pick this year would have been the 6th/7th best prospect last year. (Nick Perry, maybe Bruce Irvin depending on how the games missed plays out)

Name Projection
Quinton Coples 9.5
Chandler Jones 16.2
Nick Perry 20.9
Whitney Mercilus12.7
Vinny Curry 19.1
Bruce Irvin 24.9

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 9:32am

How does Shea McClellin come out?

by Rivers McCown :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 10:25am

Should be coming today!

by Joseph :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 1:37pm

How it is that FO hasn't linked to this page in the past?

BTW, Cosell also talks about Kirk Cousins, the ASU QB, and some other QB whose name I don't remember. In the one talking about Cousins, he links to his breakdowns of Luck, RG3, and Tannehill.

by asg (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 2:20pm

From the article linked:

"With the ball in his hands, [Blackmon] is deceptively quick, displaying the run-after-catch ability you want to see..."

Deceptive speed is back!

by tuluse :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 2:38pm

It's being used to describe a black player, however.

by Dan :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 3:34pm

Here's an article from Pat Kirwan about the comparison, looking at their performance against common opponents:

"I asked two Stanford defensive players to compare the two wide receivers, and they didn't think it was even close. As one defensive back said, Blackmon was from another planet."

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 5:10pm

People aren't giving enough credit to the QB situation between the two players. Kirwan mentions it and then moves on.

In 2009, Floyd played 6 1/2 games (hurt in first half versus MSU). He had a great senior college QB in Clausen, similar to what Blackmon had with Weeden, and put up 44-795-9. If you double that (to get him to 13 games) you get equal production (88-1590-18) and a hell of lot higher yards per catch. He was only a sophomore then.

Watch the FSU-ND bowl game and tell me Rees and Hendrix are even in the same stratosphere as Weeden. They can't even throw a simple end zone fade without Floyd having to look like a hero.

by Chris K. (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 5:32pm

The end zone fade is not actually a simple play. Most quarterbacks get it wrong most of the time, and the receiver is usually relied upon to make the play if it is going to work. (Quarterbacks are in fact often supposed to miss in such a way that if the receiver doesn't make a play, no one will.) Obviously you are right about the quality of quarterbacks, but it is very dangerous to try to extrapolate that far away from what actually happened. Half season statistics are notoriously unreliable.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 7:43pm

Do you know the play to which I was referring? ND's 2nd TD. Field throw, underthrown by a good 3-5 yards. If he was going to miss, he should have overthrown him.

And the end zone fade is no harder than bubble screen which has an even smaller margin of error. Some are better than others, but it's a throw a BCS starting QB should be able to make, but I do appreciate the armchair QB analysis of the fade.

by Joseph :: Mon, 04/23/2012 - 1:05pm

As a guy who caught them and threw them, both "sandlot" and HS, I always wanted it thrown TO me over my outside shoulder and beyond me (or at least one of them). This way I could use my body to shield the DB and catch the ball away from my body, where the DB could only interfere or watch me catch it. That's how it's supposed to work in theory, of course. As a QB, the tendency is to throw it high, where the receiver can locate it and get to it. Unfortunately, it is easy to put too much air under it, and thus throw it short. The QB also doesn't want to throw it out of bounds or out of the back of the EZ, and the natural tendency is to throw it short because you don't want to overthrow it. IMO, one of the hardest passes to get right. It's all about touch.

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