The Colorado Buffaloes saw their second former (and forever) cornerback selected in the 2023 NFL Draft when Mekhi Blackmon’s name was called by the Minnesota Vikings with the final pick of the 3rd round.
Blackmon started 19 games across four seasons with the Buffs. It would have been more, but he injured his shoulder early in his sophomore campaign, then started every game of the shortened 2020 season. His final season in Boulder — also disrupted by injuries — was his best as he and Christian Gonzalez made for a dynamic cornerback tandem and were both All-Pac-12 honorable mentions.
Blackmon was able to exercise a sixth year of eligibility, since he redshirted due to that shoulder injury and the Covid season did not count against him. Rather than entering the draft or staying at Colorado, he chose to transfer to USC and compete for playing time. He ended up starting all 14 games, made 15 pass deflections and intercepted 3 passes en route to being named First Team All-Pac-12, alongside Oregon’s Gonzalez.
The product of Hayward, California is a bit old for a draft prospect at 24-years-old, but the Vikings will be confident that he can produce right away. Like most CU cornerbacks who have found success, Blackmon excels in man coverage, plays bigger than his size and is more than solid against the run. He plays a position of need and could start right away as a slot corner, or compete with Andrew Booth and Byron Murphy for starting positions on the outside.
There should be no question about celebrating Blackmon as a Buff, even if he transferred to USC. It’s easy for fans to feel slighted when we could have a defensive backfield of Blackmon, Gonzalez, Mark Perry (TCU) and Trevor Woods (still here!), but it was the best move for those players (and many more) to move on. It was clear that the coaching staff was unsure how to handle instant transfers and NIL deals, much less oversee a competitive football team that could develop NFL talent. It was a sinking ship and we should be proud of the players who sought greener pastures and thrived, especially those like Blackmon who put in four good years at CU before transferring.
Blackmon making it to the NFL also follows a pattern of Colorado cornerbacks finding their way. More so than any other position, the Buffs will now have Blackmon, Gonzalez (Patriots), Chidobe Awuzie (Bengals), Isaiah Oliver (49ers) and Ahkello Witherspoon (Steelers) starting around the league.
Blackmon will probably be the last Buff to hear their name in this draft. Keep an eye on Jarek Broussard, Terrance Lang, Brady Russell and Daniel Arias as late round picks or priority free agents.