Alshon Jeffery also failed to disappoint as his South Carolina Gamecocks took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl. Jeffery went up against another first-round talent in cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.These two got into it late in the game and were ejected, but it's safe to say that Jeffery won the battle. He racked up 148 yards on four catches and a touchdown.
These two players are clearly 1A and 1B in terms of talent, and where they will go in the draft depends only on the team picking and who they feel will better fit their system.
Jeffery had been slipping on draft boards and at one point was behind Michael Floyd of Notre Dame. Really? I don't see the logic in that.
I'm not saying that Floyd isn't a good receiver, but he shouldn't be in Blackmon's and Jeffery's level. Jeffery proved everybody wrong against Nebraska when he played with a still recovering right hand (he broke it against Clemson), and dominated future first-rounder Alfonzo Dennard.
So which of these two players should be drafted first?
In terms of productivity, Blackmon has Alshon beat by a long shot. Heck, he has everyone beat by a long shot. He recorded 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns. Talk about impressive.
Jeffery's productivity did suffer a lot because of shady quarterback play from Day 1. Whether it was Stephen Garcia or Connor Shaw, they had the best target in college football and they failed to give him the ball on a constant basis. Jeffery recorded only 49 catches for 762 yards and 8 touchdowns.
One must keep in mind that Blackmon played in a system where the air-it-out style dominated over the ground & pound. He had one of the best quarterbacks in the country throwing him the ball and had a running game that they did not rely on, but it kept defenses honest.
Jeffery wishes he could've had at least someone that could get the ball in his area. The Gamecocks also relied heavily on the run even when star running back Marcus Lattimore went out with a torn ACL.
In terms of measurement, Blackmon is Michael Crabtree's clone. They are both 6'1", 215. Crabtree had a lot of hype coming out of Texas Tech as he had won the Biletnikof Award two years in a row. Remind you of someone?
Crabtree has yet to live up to the hype and has been a dissapointment. He has stepped up this year but is still greatly underachieving. Blackmon has as much, if not more, hype than Crabtree, and I expect him to struggle his first year.
I do think he will live up to expectations starting his second year as he gets accustomed to NFL cornerbacks. Playing in the Big 12 clearly doesn't put you up against top level cornerbacks which might be something to look at when grading Blackmon.
Jeffery, on the other hand, is Brandon Marshall's clone. They both measure 6'4" barefoot and weigh 230. They can both catch passes over the middle or catch the deep balls. They can both rack up yards after the catch and are matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
Jeffery has better hands than Marshall, which is even scarier. Jeffery has also gone up against SEC defenses and has won almost every battle. Last year, Jeffery went up against Auburn's national championship defense and caught eight passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. He followed that up by catching seven passes for 127 yards and two more touchdowns against Alabama's defense.
Whether Blackmon goes ahead of Jeffery or vice-versa, both of these players will be great NFL receivers and will follow in the footsteps of recent first-rounders A.J. Green and Julio Jones. The team that drafts either of these players will have a receiver for years to come and will have one of the most feared passing attacks.
Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery are two names every NFL fan will become familiar with in the near future.