INDIANAPOLIS: Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon believes he will surprise some with his speed, but it won’t happen at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Blackmon said he suffered a hamstring injury last week that will keep him from running at the combine. Instead, he’s planning to show off March 9 at Oklahoma State’s pro day.
“I know I’m not slow,” Blackmon said Friday. “I’m going to get out and will probably shock a few people.”
He has posted times of 4.4 and 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He realizes a performance like that at his pro day would improve his chances of becoming a top-five draft pick.
The Browns, who have the fourth and 22nd overall selections, could be interested in Blackmon, because their receivers lack firepower.
“I think it’s important that the receivers can run, for sure,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said when asked if the team needs to add speed at receiver. “I think what you want to see are guys who can separate and catch the ball first and foremost. Obviously, guys that can run extremely fast, that’s the element that makes them very special.”
A.J. Green and Julio Jones headlined the draft class of receivers in 2011. The Cincinnati Bengals picked Green fourth overall, and the Atlanta Falcons traded with the Browns to move into the No. 6 slot so they could nab Jones. Green and Jones ran the 40 in 4.50 and 4.39 seconds, respectively, at the combine.
The 6-foot, 207-pound Blackmon believes he’s as talented as Green and Jones.
“They had really good rookie seasons, both A.J. and Julio,” Blackmon said. “I am very competitive, so I would put myself right up there with them.”
As for Blackmon’s speed, Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden says it’s as good as Blackmon advertises.
“Just turn on the film,” Weeden said. “The guy pulls away from everybody. I don’t know what he’s going to run. He’s fast, but you turn on the film and no one can catch up to him. He’ll be fine. I’m not worried about him. He’s not worried about it. He’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time.”
Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff sounded just as passionate about his draft-day trade with the Browns a year ago to get Jones as the day he made it.
“We accomplished becoming more explosive,” said Dimitroff, a Barberton native. “We will never look back on our move as being one that was overly expensive. It was something we deemed was right for the organization at the time. Julio was brought in not for the here and now only, but for the future of the franchise.”
Jones missed three games due to injury, but caught 54 passes for 959 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I think Julio had a fine rookie year,” Dimitroff said. “He was just shy of 1,000 yards. He led all rookies in touchdowns. He made an impact on our team that we enjoyed at so many levels. The fan base enjoyed watching him. He’s a guy that you’re always on the edge of your seat waiting to watch. He complemented the way Roddy White plays the game and [tight end] Tony Gonzalez. We have a nice expectation for Julio in the future.”
Touting QB Flynn
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy believes backup quarterback Matt Flynn is ready to be an NFL starter, even though he’s gotten the nod in only two games in four years. If they don’t franchise him, Flynn will become a free agent March 13 and the Browns could be one of the teams seeking to sign him.
“Based on what I see in the everyday classroom, practice field, he’s ready,” McCarthy said. “It’s his time to play. You don’t ever know if a backup quarterback can take that next step and go out and play 16 games. I know mentally he’s ready, emotionally he’s definitely ready, but until you play the position and go play those 1,100, 1,200 snaps, that’s when you really find out. And I think Matt’s ready for that.”
Asked Flynn’s strengths, McCarthy said: “I’ll tell you what, he’s very consistent, the same guy every day. I’m talking about emotionally, mentally and physically. He can make all the throws, does a very good job of running the system. ...
“He has the ability to play the moving phase and the action phase and also drop back and throw the ball on some deep, out-breaking balls. I think he’s very savvy in the pocket and people underestimate his athletic ability. He’s a very good football player when he leaves the pocket.”
No ‘setback’ for Richardson
Alabama running back Trent Richardson is projected as a first-round pick, but he won’t be able to prove his elite status in combine drills after recently undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
“I had a little meniscus, lateral,” he said. “I don’t even call it a setback. I just missed a little opportunity to run the 40 and show everybody what I can do, which everybody has seen in my college career. So if you call it a setback, that’s for you to say.”
Richardson was disappointed he can’t run at the combine.
“I’m very disappointed I can’t do the stuff here that everybody else can do,” he said. “In college it irked my nerves when I heard guys say they don’t want to [do] this and that at the combine. That’s something you dream of and want to do your whole life. Being a college football player and a competitor, I always wanted to come to this and show all my skills. That’s what the top guys do.”
Alabama’s pro day is set for March 7.
Browns at auto show
Five Browns players are scheduled to appear at the Cleveland Auto Show at the International Exposition Center. Alex Mack and Greg Little are set to sign autographs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Josh Cribbs and T.J. Ward from 6-8 p.m. Thursday and Joe Haden from 1-3 p.m. next Saturday.