Notre Dame Senior
Has good size and is a physical and tough player. Most comfortable working in press coverage and shows some ability to match up with bigger wideouts in the slot or tight ends. Flashes ball skills to turn and locate the ball on the jump ball. Does a nice job using his body to get position in order to make a play on the ball in the air against the jump ball or fade. Shows some ability to drive on the ball on the crossing route. Closes well and will deliver a hit to break up a pass by separating the receiver from the ball. Breaks down and wraps up the ballcarrier on the second level.
Doesn't have good hips and has poor balance and technique in man coverage. Doesn't really use a backpedal and makes it hard for him to turn and run with the receiver out of his breaks. Gets grabby if he can't get the initial jam at the line of scrimmage. Has some difficulty defending the out patterns. Doesn't always turn and locate the ball in the air. Gives up too much cushion at times. Doesn't really drive through as a tackler and is undersized there when matching up against physical tight ends.
Blanton is the more reliable out of Notre Dame's pair of corners. He flashes ability as a bump and run/press matchup corner. He's a guy that will give you effort and bring toughness to the table, and as a guy that isn't afraid to face those 6-3 and 6-4 receivers, that is the type of player Blanton is. But he just doesn't have the ability in man coverage to actually match up with those guys and he might be better served moving to safety at the next level. There, he has a bit more higher upside to develop down the road.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/10) at Michigan: 1 target, 0 rec., 0 yds, 1 INT
(11/26) at Stanford: 7 tgt., 4 rec., 46 yds (11.5 avg), 17 YAC, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 2 PD, 2 penalties (holding, pass interference)
(12/29) vs. Florida St: 3 tgt., 0 rec., 0 yds, 1 PD
2011: 13 GP/13 GS, 70 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 1.0 sacks, 2 INTs, 6 PD, 0 FF, 1 FR
A bit of Blanton reminds me of Morgan Trent when he came out of Michigan in 2009, as they both are tall corners that can match up with some of the bigger wideouts in the league. I wasn't a big fan of Trent because I thought he was tall and athletic, but his technique was sloppy and unrefined. But since then he's developed into a competent reserve for the Bengals and Jaguars. The main difference between Blanton and Trent is that Trent was a much better athlete, to the point where if he could be developed he could match up with NFL receivers and become the player he is today. Blanton just lacks that athleticism, and even if he does improve his game, will struggle to match up with most NFL receivers. His value as a corner is if he goes to a team that will play a lot of press man coverage, allowing him to play bump and run, and he'll be effective there when he faces those wideouts that can't quite handle press. Outside that, he doesn't bring a lot to the table as a corner. Instead, most teams are going to be better served trying to make him into a safety. It probably won't be a huge transition for him either since I believe he played some safety in high school. He's not a great tackler compared to most safeties, but with some added muscle (215-220 pound range), he should be a competent run defender. I don't know if he has good enough ball skills to think that he'll be able to make a bunch of plays in centerfield, but I don't think he's lacking in that area to think he'll struggle. I foresee him going to some team and playing special teams early in his career. And if he gets 2 or 3 years to transition to the safety position, he can develop enough to be a competent fill-in player there. I don't ever see him being a regular starter, but for some team looking for a decent stopgap option that can keep a defense afloat for a couple of games, he should be okay. He's not really a playmaker, but a guy that can compete and seems like a smart, mature guy that should be coachable, so I like his potential to improve. But he's more of a depth guy that I think offers enough versatility as a safety/corner that can help out a defense as a role player. While he didn't do a great job, I thought he was competent going against Fleener in the Stanford game to make me think that once he gets a few years under his belt and fills out his frame better he can be a decent strong safety that can match up with tight ends. I think he'll carve out a nice niche as a reserve safety at the next level, but that's probably all he'll ever be.
Blanton doesn't bring much to the Falcons roster as a cornerback. He could be developed there so that down the road he can be a role player that can help them out against big wide outs and tight ends, but it remains to be seen how much more press coverage the Falcons will employ under Mike Nolan. Blanton needs a scheme that uses a lot to be effective. Instead, he'd be better off just moving to safety from the get-go as a Falcon and competing for a reserve and special teams role. He could potentially be the No. 4 or 5 safety off the bat, but is a better bet to make the practice squad. That would give him some time to add some muscle and get used to playing safety. Two or three years down the road, he could add some decent depth that could play either safety spot although he might be a better fit as a strong safety. He could be develop into a competent backup that has his primary value playing on special teams, similar to Shann Schillinger. And potentially good enough on defense, that you could get by if he was in the starting lineup for a game or two.
For a team that is willing to be patient and develop him as a safety down the road, he can be a nice sixth or seventh round pick. As a corner, I'd probably steer clear of drafting him. But he does have some skills that can allow him to make an NFL roster so despite lacking a starter's upside, he is worth drafting.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Man Coverage: 5.5
Zone Coverage: 4.0
Ball Skills: 6.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.