2017 NFL Draft

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Robert Blanton

| | College: Notre Dame
Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange

Robert "RJ" Blanton was a top-20 defensive back recruit out of high school, choosing Notre Dame over North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon and Michigan. He saw immediate action in 2008 as a true freshman with four starts, recording 33 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 3 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions (1 returned for a score). Blanton started the majority of the 2009 season as a sophomore (8 starts), finishing with 38 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 2 pass break-ups and 2 pick-offs.

He lost his starting job in 2010 as a junior (had only 1 start), recording 53 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 5 pass break-ups, 2 interceptions, adding a punt return for a score. Blanton started all 13 games in 2011 and had his best season as a senior, finishing with a career-high 70 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 6 pass break-ups, 2 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery.

Blanton is a talented athlete with good straight-line speed and toughness for his size and length - one of the better tackling defensive backs in this class. He was in and out of the starting line-up while at Notre Dame, but showed steady development over his career and had a productive senior season. Blanton might be best suited to move inside to free safety with his aggressive but upright and tight playing style … has the size and competitiveness to get drafted, but is a liability in coverage and won't be high on many draft boards.


Strengths: Tall and athletic with plus length for the position (31" arms). He plays with the physical nature to shed defenders and work off blocks. Good toughness and recognition skills to fight through traffic and blow up screens. Plays with good fundamentals and takes accurate angles to the ballcarrier. A strong, aggressive tackler and doesn't back down against the run. Physical downfield and matches up well with bigger receivers. Tough and fiery with very good competitiveness … high effort player. Has very good focus on interceptions to make the pick and return it for positive yardage. Has good starting experience with at least one start in each of his four seasons and 26 career starts. Productive and finished third on the team in tackles in 2011.

Weaknesses: Has only average long-speed and body flexibility. Opens his hips too early and allows himself to get turned around in coverage. Needs to improve his footwork and balance in coverage. Transitions out of his backpedal too early and doesn't look natural moving in reverse. Too hands-on downfield and is an easy target for defensive holding and pass interference penalties ' really struggles in this area. Has suspect anticipation and instincts, doing a lot of guessing. Misses too many assignments and makes poor reads, struggling to quickly decipher what the offense is doing. An inconsistent wrap tackler and tends to hit too high and doesn't always finish. Plays too far off the line of scrimmage and doesn't have a lot of experience in press coverage.

NFL Comparison: Keenan Lewis, Pittsburgh Steelers

-- Dane Brugler

2011 Season

Blanton had his best season at Notre Dame in 2011 as he set career highs with 70 tackles and eight tackles for loss. Blanton ranked third on the team in tackles, second in tackles for loss and pass breakups (six) and tied for team-high honors with two interceptions.

2010 Season

Saw action in all 13 games and started against Army … totaled career-best 52 tackles on the season, including seven tackles for loss (third on team) … the seven tackles for loss were the most by an Irish defensive back since A'Jani Sanders had 10.0 during the 1999 season … added one sack and two interceptions … tallied four tackles against Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford including two solo stops in each of those games … recorded two solo stops, one of which was a sack, against Boston College … registered an interception against the Eagles … totaled three solo tackles against Pittsburgh … added six tackles against Western Michigan … helped the Irish against Tulsa with five stops, including three solo tackles … blocked a punt against Utah and dashed six yards for a touchdown … first Irish player to block a punt since Sergio Brown on Dec. 24, 2008, against Hawai'i in the Hawai'i Bowl … also first Notre Dame player to return a blocked punt for a touchdown since Toryan Smith (14 yards) on Nov. 15, 2008, vs. Navy … the touchdown was the second of Blanton's career … he registered a 47-yard interception return for touchdown vs. Purdue on Sept. 27, 2008 … registered four tackles, including one unassisted take-down during the matchup with Army … recorded a season-high against USC with four solo tackles to limit the Trojans … led Notre Dame with career-high nine tackles vs. Miami in Hyundai Sun Bowl … added one interception against the Hurricanes … played 483 snaps on defense.

2009 Season

Started career-high eight games at cornerback and played in all 12 games … ranked eighth on team with career-best 38 tackles and tied for second with two interceptions … added two pass breakups and one tackle for loss … started season opener against Nevada and tallied one interception and two tackles … helped limit Wolf Pack to 13 of 27 passing for 154 yards … recorded five tackles against Michigan State … posted career-high eight tackles at Purdue including five solo stops … notched four tackles and one pass breakup against USC … tallied one interception, one pass breakup and one tackle against Washington State … helped limit Cougars to 104 passing yards on 12 of 23 passing … totaled two tackles including one tackle for loss against Connecticut … held Huskies to 12 of 25 passing for 141 yards … logged 166:57 of playing time with 35 special-teams appearances.

2008 Season

Appeared in Notre Dame's final 12 games of the season after sitting out opener vs. San Diego State … started the final four contests at cornerback for the Irish (vs. Navy, Syracuse, USC and Hawai'i) … tallied 33 total tackles and registered three tackles for a loss … intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown … recorded two tackles (both solo) including a tackle for a loss in his career debut against Michigan … tallied three tackles (solo, two assists) against Michigan State … helped hold the Spartan passing attack to under 150 yards … had a career day vs. Purdue by recording five tackles (all solo), breaking up a pass, and intercepting a Curtis Painter pass and returning it 47 yards for the first score of the day … the interception against the Boilermakers was the first of his career and he became only the fifth Irish freshman to ever return an interception for a touchdown … saw an increased roll in the secondary against Stanford and recorded a solo tackle in the victory … recorded two tackles (both solo) vs. North Carolina … featured in the defensive backfield rotation against Washington and tallied two tackles (solo; assist) and broke up a pass while helping hold the Huskies to just 98 passing yards … continued to see increased action in the secondary vs. Pittsburgh, making two tackles (both assists) … helped limit the Boston College passing attack to less than 100 yards passing and below 50-percent completion percentage … made his first career start and turned in an all-around impressive defensive performance against Navy, registering two tackles (solo; assist), a tackle for loss and a pass break-up … made his second career start vs. Syracuse and amassed three tackles (all solo) while helping hold the Orange to just 147 passing yards … started his third consecutive game against USC and tallied a career-high seven tackles (all solo), a tackle for loss and added his second interception of the season vs. the Trojans … totaled four tackles in season finale against Hawai'i … logged 170:24 of playing time with 63 special teams appearances.

High School

Selected for U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio where he played both cornerback and safety … one of 11 players from state of North Carolina selected to All-Southern team by Orlando Sentinel … named to Super Southern 100 by Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of 10 cornerbacks … rated 92nd nationally by CSTV/Tom Lemming and 13th among defensive backs … considered by Rivals.com the top cover safety in nation, 22nd-best safety in country and seventh-best prospect in North Carolina … rated by Scout.com as 15th-best cornerback in country and third-best player in North Carolina … named first-team all-state in 2006 and 2007 by North Carolina Associated Press and by Charlotte Observer … named 2007 Defensive Player of the Year by Charlotte Observer … played in North-South Carolina Shrine Bowl … tallied 94 tackles, five interceptions and six blocked kicks in 2007 as senior … also gained 252 yards on 16 receptions … helped the Bulldogs reach second round of Class 4AA playoffs … as a junior, totaled 147 tackles, 12 pass breakups and seven interceptions in 15 games … caught four passes for 86 yards as a junior … named second-team all-state as a sophomore after recording 126 tackles, six interceptions, 10 pass breakups, forced six fumbles and blocked six kicks … recognized as Carolina Panthers Community Captain for his outstanding performance in classroom and in community … member of Butler honor roll and a first lieutenant in Butler's JROTC program … received JROTC Scholastic Award … served as a coach for an 11-12-year-old football team at Youth Football Club of Mint Hill … spokesperson for Butler High's D.R.E.A.M. Team (Daring to Role-model Excellence as Athletic Mentors) and was one of only 12 hand-selected members … recognized at Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks game for being recognized as a Panthers Community Captain … one of five finalists for Glenn Davis Award, a national award based on community service, academics and athletic accomplishment, and presented at U.S. Army All-American Bowl … participated in basketball and track … ran hurdles and was jumper on track team, surpassing 21 feet in long jump and clearing 6-7 in high jump … played for coach Mike Newsome.


Born Sept. 7, 1989 in Clackamas, Oregon … son of Kathrine Edwards.


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