The 2023 NFL Draft class features a stacked group of defensive players, especially at cornerback, where USC CB Mekhi Blackmon is making waves as he steadily moves up draft boards. While most of the conversation has been focused on the top names in the class, what does Blackmon’s scouting report suggest about his NFL Draft stock?
Mekhi Blackmon NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: USC
- Year: Redshirt Senior
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cornerback in the 2023 NFL draft class who has more experience than Blackmon. A two-sport athlete at Menlo-Atherton High in Atherton (Calif.), Blackmon played on both sides of the ball at receiver and corner.
A three-star prospect coming out, Blackmon took a different route than others, attending the College of San Mateo and posting 20 tackles (12 solo) with one interception and a pass breakup. Before the 2018 season, Blackmon transferred to the University of Colorado, where he saw instant action. Playing in eight games with three starts, Blackmon finished with three pass breakups and two touchdown-saving tackles.
2019 saw Blackman play in four games before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the season, and thanks to a change in the NCAA rules, he was able to take advantage of a redshirt and did not lose a season of eligibility. Returning as a redshirt junior in 2020, he started all six games for the Buffs, including their matchup in the Alamo Bowl.
Blackmon missed three games due to an injury in 2021 but still earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors by starting eight of nine games and recording 41 tackles, one interception, and four pass breakups. After four years in Colorado, Blackmon returned to his home state and transferred to play for Lincoln Riley and the USC Trojans.
Now in LA, Blackmon had his best season yet. Earning third-team AP All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 honors, Blackman recorded three interceptions and a team-high 12 pass breakups while posting 66 tackles in his 14 starts and allowing just 47.6% of his targets to be completed.
Although slightly undersized, Blackmon measured in at 5’11” in 178 pounds at the NFL Combine with 31-inch arms. A physical but athletic corner, Blackmon had an outstanding performance in the testing part of the evaluation, running a 4.47-second 40-yard dash with a 1.54 split, jumping 36 inches in the vert and 10’5″ in the broad, and posting 11 reps on the bench. Blackmon did not test at USC’s rain-soaked Pro Day but did participate in on-field drills.
While Blackmon continues to conduct his top-30 interviews with prospective teams, what does his scouting report suggest about his strengths and areas for improvement as we close in on the 2023 NFL draft?
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Mekhi Blackmon
Strengths: Feisty corner with average size and speed. Fluid pedaling in reverse, quick flipping his hips, and battles opponents throughout the route. Works to get his head back around to track the ball in the air, displays a nice move to the throw, and gets vertical to knock away passes. Displays good hands for the interception. Shows good route recognition facing the action and works well with safeties. Willing run defender who fights to get off blocks.
Weaknesses: Off balance in his transition. Possesses an average burst to the ball. Gets a little grabby, which results in penalties.
Overall: Blackmon gives effort in his all-around game and consistently fights to make positive plays. He has a thin build and lacks elite speed, yet he has enough ability to make a roster as a dime back and special-teams player.
Mekhi Blackmon Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 178 pounds
- Arm Length: 31″
- Hand Size: 9 1/4″
- Bench Press: 11
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.47 seconds
- Vertical Jump: 36″
- Broad Jump: 10’5″
USC CB Mekhi Blackmon’s Current Draft Projection
2023 is absolutely loaded with talent and is a perfect year if your team needs a CB. Although names like Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, Kelee Ringo, and Joey Porter Jr. dominate the conversations, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dozen go in the first two rounds alone.
With that said, I wouldn’t expect Blackmon to be among those names. Currently, Blackmon is the No. 204 overall prospect on Tony Pauline’s Big Board and is the CB28 with a grade of 3.36, giving him a projected draft capital of somewhere in the sixth round.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
As someone who can track the ball well and stay in phase, Blackmon has a shot at being a capable corner. However, he could also be a penalty drawing machine after recording 11 in the last two seasons alone, as one of his first reactions at times was to grab.
But that’s technique and can be coached. Due to his size, Blackmon lacks a defined role, but I wouldn’t call him a nickel-only corner, as I think that would be a disservice to his game. You can never have too many quality CBs on your depth chart. Even if Blackmon does not become a starter, which I would not entirely rule out, he could become one of the better values at the position during the 2023 NFL Draft.
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