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WR Blackmon brings intriguing combination to draft

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Justin Blackmon has a tough job trying to be himself.

Everyone else wants to think of him as the next Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant or Terrell Owens. Some even want to know if the No. 1 receiver in this year's draft might be as polished as A.J. Green and Julio Jones were in their rookie seasons.

To Blackmon, the comparisons don't mean a thing. What he wants to do is develop his own style on the field.

"I'm me. I'm not going to try to be anybody but me," Blackmon said during this week's annual NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "I'm going to tell them what I've got to offer and see what they've got to say about it."

The Oklahoma State receiver possesses a tantalizing combination of size, speed and skill.

Blackmon, a two-time All-American and two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top receiver, needed only three seasons to break the school's career records for receptions and yards receiving.

His next goal is running a 4.2 in the 40-yard dash, though even he admits that it's more likely he'll be clocked at 4.4 or 4.5.

The only glaring blemish on an otherwise impeccable resume is Blackmon's size. He measured in at 6-feet, 207 pounds in Indianapolis, slightly smaller than last year's listed size of 6-1, 215, though that's still big enough to be the play-making receiver everyone expects him to be.

"They could get a guy who would go out there and compete and fight every play and be a good team player," Blackmon said when asked specifically about going to the Rams in April's draft. "Someone talks to me, I will probably talk back. I'm one of those guys that likes to get everybody going."

Blackmon doesn't plan to run during Sunday's workout at Lucas Oil Stadium after hurting his hamstring last week, and though he will participate in some other drills, he's not planning to do much.

His decision still isn't likely to affect his draft stock despite being surrounded by a talented class of receivers.

Michael Floyd caught 100 passes for Notre Dame last season. South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery has lots of potential and prototypical size at 6-2 1/2 and even showed up at the combine 16 pounds lighter than last year's playing weight (232). Baylor's Kendall Wright doesn't possess the size of Blackmon, Floyd or Jeffery, but he does have top-end speed, a 42-inch vertical jump, a basketball pedigree and experience in the slot.

All could go in the first round.

"I've been running routes for a long time," Wright said. "Sunday will tell a lot. I'm waiting for Sunday to get out there and show what I can do."

Blackmon offers a different kind of combination, though.

Some believe he can be as physical a receiver as Johnson, the Lions' star wideout, or as good a route-runner as Owens was in his prime. Others see the obvious connection between Blackmon and Bryant, who are former college teammates.

Teams in need of receivers this year are hoping Blackmon can follow in the footsteps of Green, a Pro Bowl choice last season, or Jones, who finished his rookie year tied for 11th in TD receptions (eight). Projecting receivers isn't always easy and the transition can take time.

But those paying attention believe Blackmon has all the attributes to make it big.

"He's going to be a top player in this draft. I'm not ready to say he's better or worse than A.J. or Julio," said new Rams general manager Les Snead, whose Falcons traded into the top 10 last year to select Jones. "It took eight weeks to figure out if it (trading) was worth it. If we figure out between now and then that Justin's worth it, he's definitely an option."

It's not entirely clear where Blackmon may get picked.

With one of the two top quarterbacks, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, expected to go No. 1 to Indianapolis and quarterback-needy teams trying to move up for the other, the Rams are in perfect position to entertain trade offers for the No. 2 pick.

They already have a No. 1 choice at quarterback in Sam Bradford and by moving down they could gain additional picks and still might be able to get Blackmon, who is telling teams that what they're seeing this week is not a finished product.

"I know I have a lot to work on with route running," he said. "I am working on it continually. I know I have some work to do and I'm willing to do it."

Leaving only one lingering question: Who is he most like as a player?

"I'd like to look to be sort of like him (Owens) because his work ethic is real good and I like to work as hard as I can," Blackmon said. "One person never brings him down and that's how I try to play."

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