Trojans teammates: Vikings take USC CB Blackmon in NFL draft
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — After taking USC wide receiver Jordan Addison in the first round of the NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings had a long wait before they were back on the clock.
The wait was long, the distance wasn’t.
Minnesota eventually selected Addison’s teammate and Trojans cornerback Mekhi Blackmon with the final pick of the third round Friday night.
“I know they’re competitive,” Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said. “I talked to their coaches there about how their practices are. They’re both incredibly instinctive players and they’re going to make everybody else around them better.”
Minnesota began the second day of the draft without a second-round pick from the trade they made last November with Detroit to acquire tight end T.J. Hockenson. The Vikings had the 87th overall selection, in the third round, before trading down with the San Francisco 49ers.
In exchange for No. 87, Minnesota received the 102nd pick, a compensatory selection for San Francisco, to draft Blackmon. The team also added the 164th pick (fifth round) and No. 222 (seventh).
“I was waiting all night,” Blackmon said. “I thought it would come earlier. You guys traded back. I kind of anticipated I was probably going to come to you guys, just praying and wishing I would.”
Addison added to an already strong receiving group with star Justin Jefferson, Hockenson and K.J. Osborn. Blackmon addresses one of Minnesota’s biggest needs.
The 24-year-old cornerback enters a Vikings’ secondary that lost veteran Patrick Peterson in free agency, along with Cameron Dantzler, Duke Shelley and Kris Boyd. Minnesota signed Byron Murphy in free agency and has 2022 cornerback draft picks in Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans.
“Excited about that group,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Ultimately, they’re unknowns and that’s what football is; taking chances and seeing what they are. I think we got great coaches and a great process to develop them."
Blackmon, who is 6-foot and 175 pounds, was a third-team All-American and first-team all-conference last year, leading the Pac-12 with 12 passes defended and tallying three interceptions with 66 tackles in 14 games.
It was his lone season with USC after transferring from Colorado.
“There’s a skill to know when to look for the ball,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Not everybody has it, he does. Somebody who’s aggressive in the run game, just somebody we’re really happy we got where we did.”
Blackmon said he loved the facilities and coaches when he visited Minnesota during a top-30 visit.
Addison and the Minnesota Vikings hit it off during his pre-draft visit, which ended a vow from coach Kevin O’Connell that they would take him with the 23rd overall pick in the NFL draft if the USC wide receiver was still available.
“Once Minnesota came up, I just kept checking my phone,” Addison said.
But surely other teams made the same easy, empty promise?
“Yeah, they said that, but they didn’t stick to their word, so I’m glad to be a Viking,” said Addison, who was the fourth consecutive wide receiver to come off the board Thursday. “This is where I’m supposed to be at. They believe in me, and I’m just glad to be here.”
The synergy is strong between Addison and the Vikings, who have as rich of a lineage at wide receiver as any team in the NFL — with Cris Carter and Randy Moss in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Justin Jefferson well on his way. He’s also a native of Maryland like former Vikings standout Stefon Diggs, whose route-running skill was must-watch video for Addison as an eager teenager.
“Just the way he ran routes and his mindset about everything just kind of shifted my perspective because I was a quarterback at first,” Addison said. “That’s when I switched my position to receiver in high school, and then I never looked back.”
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 173 pounds by the NFL, Addison on the small side for his position. He’ll have to prove he can consistently beat man-to-man press coverage that will be much tougher than he faced with the Trojans in the Pac-12 last year or in the ACC at Pittsburgh in his first two college seasons.
“That’s something that a lot of people tried to do, just eyeing me up from the first point, but I just tried to use that as their weakness. Some people just tried to get overaggressive, and I just used that to my advantage,” Addison said Friday at his introductory news conference.
AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell contributed.
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