Rookie Roundup: Robert Blanton, CB, University of Notre Dame

Robert “RJ” Blanton is one of those intriguing rookies who enters the draft with a question mark when it comes to potential NFL success.  At 6’1, 208 pounds, Blanton has great size for his position, is tough, and exhibits good footwork. He is simply a complete player. But long play speed has been a bit of an issue for Blanton, and he was not a full-time starter at Notre Dame. He does, however, come with one important intangible – smarts, as evidenced by our Rookie Roundup interview below.

(Credit: University of Notre Dame)

Draft experts currently project Blanton to be taken anywhere between the 3rd-7th rounds.

Rookie Roundup Interview

Melissa Jacobs: Is it true you had never heard of Notre Dame before they recruited you?  If so, how is that even possible?

Robert Blanton:  It’s very true.  I grew up in Portland, Oregon, which is quite a ways away, and my stepdad was in the military [Air Force] growing up.  So we lived on a base in Aviano, Italy for three years. Then we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico for three years. We ended up in Charlotte when I was in sixth grade and with all the traveling and moving around I just hadn’t heard of Notre Dame.  I also didn’t watch much college football as a kid.  They sent me a letter when I was a junior in high school and that was honestly the first time I had heard of them.

MJ:  So you get this letter from Notre Dame. Did you Google them right away? At what point did you understand the magnitude of the school and its history?

RB:  My coach started hyping them up and basically told me this was the school I was going to attend.  He told me what a great school it was.  I didn’t give much thought to it but they kept recruiting me so my family and me ended up taking a visit there in the summertime. While it was beautiful, I really didn’t get a sense of the tradition and how highly people thought of Notre Dame until I started going to school there.

MJ:  The NFL combine ended just over a week ago.  What were the best and the most challenging experiences for you?

RB:  I would say the best part was just all the talking, especially getting to meet the teams and a lot of other players that you hear about on television but know nothing of their personalities.  And just getting a change of scenery from training the last two moths was nice as well.

MJ:  Who was the most interesting or entertaining person you met in Indianapolis?

RB:  I met some interesting people, but my roommate there, Chris Harris from Oregon is whom I talked with the most.  He was very cool.

MJ:  In my three minutes of knowing you, I’m already going to peg you as a high Wonderlic test scorer?  Did you get your results yet?

RB:  No ma’am. But I was probably not one of the highest.

MJ:  Why do you say that?

RB:  There are fifty questions on the Wonderlic test and I only got to question 27, which I would say is average.  You have twelve minutes to answer fifty questions.

Blanton makes a key interception against Michigan State last September (Credit: University of Notre Dame)

MJ:  Moving on from the combine, who are some of the current NFL defensive backs you think your skill set most emulates?

RB:  I wouldn’t say anyone in particular.  I watch all of them, especially the good ones and I try to take tips of technique and add it to my game.

MJ:  I read that you’re a very good chess player.  How has that helped you on the field?

RB:  I love chess and I’m about to download a chess app on my iPad so I can play with friends long distance.  I think chess helps me be more patient in football. When I watch tape, I am more disciplined with my eyes.

MJ:  In closing, assuming everything goes well for you and you sign that first contract, what is the first thing you’re buying?

RB:  I might go out to Cold Stone Creamery and get a “Banana Split Decision.” They’re so delicious.

MJ: “Gotta Have It” size?

RB:  I’m definitely going for the “Gotta Have It” size. No doubt about it.

Rookie Roundup is a series of interviews with select NFL prospects.  Look for new rookies every week leading up the draft.