CB/S Robert Blanton: Scouting Report

Round 5: Pick 139

Robert Blanton
College: Notre Dame
Position: Cornerback/Safety
Height/Weight: 6’1/208 lbs.
Highlights

Scouting Report

Eric Galko
Optimum Scouting

Blanton has excellent size and length for a corner, with 208 pounds slapped on a 6’2″ frame with long arms. However, he displays below average overall athleticism and speed, though he is proficient at using his hands and leverage to maximize his upper body strength. He’s most comfortable and effective in tight press coverage, where he flashes quick arm extension, and impressive power in jamming receivers. Blanton often gets into the opponent’s frame before the route is even initiated, and is adept at not only cutting off an inside release, but also re-routing the pass catcher entirely. However, after the initial engagement, receivers gain separation quickly, due to Blanton’s lack of quickness, lateral agility, and acceleration. He doesn’t transition well coming in and out of breaks, needing extra steps to gather himself before redirecting. He’s a long strider, and, to his credit, does have build-up speed; as such, at times when he’s beaten, he can recover and get back into the play further downfield. In zone situations, Blanton plays solid positional defense, and displays the feel to seamlessly switch men in coverage, but he’s slow to close on the play. He gives up too many underneath completions and yards after the catch because he’s consistently a step late. When he does arrive at the ball, he is a good, but not spectacular or forceful, tackler, and he does take the right angle to the ballcarrier, and can make plays in the open field. Blanton gives a solid effort every play, and once he gets the long legs going, does exhibit good range in pursuit. At Notre Dame, his productivity increased each year, with him finishing third in tackles, and racking up an impressive 8 TFL in 2011. His skillset may allow him to see some time at safety, where his coverage limitations wouldn’t be as detrimental. Overall, Blanton looks like a third corner and special teamer, and a mid round pick.

 

Dane Brugler
CBSSports
NFLDraftScout.com

A three-year starter, Robert “RJ” Blanton was a top-20 DB recruit out of HS, choosing Notre Dame over North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon and Michigan. He saw immediate action in 2008 as a true freshman (12 gp/4 st), recording 33 tkls, 3.0 tfl, 3 pbu and 2 INTs (1 returned for a TD). Blanton started the majority of the 2009 season as a sophomore (12 gp/8 st), finishing with 38 tkls, 1.0 tfl, 2 pbu and 2 INTs. He lost his starting job in 2010 as a junior (13 gp/1 st), recording 53 tkls, 7.5 tfl, 1.5 sacks, 5 pbu, 2 INTs, adding a punt return for a TD. Blanton had his best season in 2011 as a senior (13 gp/13 st), finishing with a career-high 70 tkls, 8.0 tfl, 1.0 sack, 6 pbu, 2 INTs and 1 FR.

STRENGTHS: Blanton is tall and athletic with plus length for the position. He plays with the physical nature to shed defenders and work off blocks – good toughness and recognition skills to fight through traffic and blow up screens. Blanton plays with good fundamentals and takes accurate angles to the ballcarrier. He is a strong, aggressive tackler and doesn’t back down against the run. Blanton is physical downfield and matches up well with bigger receivers. He is tough and fiery with very good competitiveness – high effort player. Blanton has very good focus on INTs to make the pick and return it for positive yardage. He has good starting experience with at least one start in each of his four seasons and 26 career starts – productive and finished third on the team in tackles in 2011.

WEAKNESSES: Blanton has only average long-speed and body flexibility. He opens his hips too early and allows himself to get turned around in coverage – needs to improve his footwork and balance in coverage. Blanton transitions out of his backpedal too early and doesn’t look natural moving in reverse. He is too hands-on downfield and is an easy target for defensive holding and pass interference penalties – really struggles in this area. Blanton has suspect anticipation and instincts, doing a lot of guessing – misses his assignments and makes poor reads, struggling to quickly decipher what the offense is doing. He is an inconsistent wrap tackler and tends to hit too high and doesn’t always finish. Blanton plays too far off the LOS and doesn’t have a lot of experience in press coverage.

OVERALL: Blanton is a talented athlete with good straight-line speed and toughness for his size and length – one of the better tackling defensive backs in this class. He was in/out of the starting line-up while at Notre Dame, but showed steady development over his career and had a productive senior season. Blanton might be best suited to move inside to FS with his aggressive but upright and tight playing style – has the size and competitiveness to get drafted, but is a liability in coverage and will fall down draft boards.

 

Josh Norris
Rotoworld

Limited to a press corner. Stutters feet on press bail vs inside step to outside release. Great length, immediately makes contact. Forced to hold in off coverage bc of stiff hips, really lacks quickness to react and turn. Holds edge very well vs run and screens, uses length and physical play to tackle with outside responsibility. Locates pass/QB well when comfortable in hip pocket, arm bar. Attacks ball at catch point. Drives on under routes but lacks quickness/straight speed. Solid tackler.

 

My GRADE: B

Spielman continues his love for Notre Dame players by adding Blanton in the 5th. While he seem limited in certain areas, I feel that this was a good scheme pick. Blanton fits what Leslie Frazier likes to do in his verson of the Tampa-2. Blanton isn’t polished in coverage but has the size, is a good tackler and also bring versatility to the secondary being able to play CB and S.

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