Top Defensive Linemen in NFL Draft: Ross Blacklock

TCU’s Ross Blacklock, the son of a basketball legend, ranks No. 3 among this year’s defensive line prospects.

TCU’s Ross Blacklock, the son of a basketball legend, ranks No. 3 among this year’s defensive line prospects.

Ultimately, Ross Blacklock preferred slamming quarterbacks more than slam dunks.

His father, Jimmy Blacklock, was a former point guard for the Harlem Globetrotters and is in his fifth season as the full-time coach. He played in more than 2,500 games in 62 countries. His son’s probably watched a dozen of those games.

“Football is just my first love,” Ross Blacklock said at the Scouting Combine. “I’ve been playing football since I was 5. It’s just the sport I’ve been gravitating to my whole life. I played five sports growing up. Football was the one I just fell in love with. …

“He never really pushed me to be a basketball player,” he continued. “He told me if I want to do it, then I’ll do it. But he never pushed me to be a basketball player. He knew football was where I wanted to be. I think basketball is just too soft for me. Too soft.”

Video: Blacklock talks basketball

At 6-foot-3 1/8 and 290 pounds, Blacklock made the right choice. After all, there’s no fouling out in football. In 2019, he was a first-team all-Big 12 and an honorable mention for Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year. He tied for the team lead with 3.5 sacks while tying for second with nine tackles for losses. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished sixth in run-stop percentage, a metric that measures impact tackles.

It was a monster season for a player who missed the 2018 campaign with a torn Achilles.

“It was kind of rough at first,” he said. “But I just had that mind-set that you have to go through something to get back to where you want to be. You can’t just mope around or be sad or be mad at the world. I went from working out in the mornings with therapy at 6 or 7 a.m., to midday workouts, to team workouts. And then at night, I’d go do my own workout or I’d go on the field or (on the) sandpit at my school and just do my own types of workouts. I’d do those the whole entire summer. I actually came back in seven months. I was scheduled to be cleared in nine months but I got cleared in seven. I haven’t had a problem with my Achilles since the day I tore it. It hasn’t been an issue — no setbacks, no issues, not anything.”

What we like

The athleticism is obvious. He ran his 40 in 4.90 seconds; his 10-yard time of 1.70 was the third-fastest at the Combine. Disruption is the name of the game and Blacklock is a big-time disruptor. A nose tackle for the Horned Frogs, he’ll likely be a more effective pass rusher in the NFL. “Teams and fans are going to get a leader. I’m a natural-born leader as a player. It’s something that just grew a part of me as an athlete. A guy that’s going to be accountable at all times, (who) holds people to high standards, like myself. I want people to hold me to a high standard just like I will hold them to a higher standard as well. A guy who just wants to be great. I see people in the NFL, some of the greatest athletes in the world, and I just want to be in the same topic. I don’t do it for money. Of course you get paid a lot of money, but I just do it for the passion of football.”

What we don’t like

Blacklock redshirted in 2016 and had the Achilles in 2018, so he only played two years at TCU. That lack of experience shows in his play. Pad level is important for every player, especially ones that will be giving away 20 or 30 pounds to most of the blockers.

Bill Huber’s Defensive Line Profiles

No. 1: Auburn’s Derrick Brown

No. 2: South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw

No. 3: TCU’s Ross Blacklock

No. 4: Missouri’s Jordan Elliott

No. 5: Auburn’s Marlon Davidson

No. 6: Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike

No. 7: Alabama’s Raekwon Davis

No. 8: Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore

Nos. 9-20: Best of the Rest