USC Football's No. 1 cornerback, Mekhi Blackmon, is rated by PFF as the No. 1-ranked CB in the PAC-12. The top five corners in the conference, according to PFF (in order); are Blackmon (82.8 grade), Clark Phillips III (82.2 grade), Chau Smith-Wade (77.8 grade), Rejzohn Wright (76.1 grade), and Christian Roland-Wallace (74.8).
Is he really the top cornerback in the PAC-12? Well, he does out-class the rest of this top five list in pass-break-ups, as he leads those five with seven. His 33 tackles is a higher number than all of the other four except for Roland-Wallace. He likely is the better corner than Roland-Wallace, though, as Roland-Wallace only has five PD's and no interceptions.
Phillips is the only corner who has more INTs in this top five than Blackmon, as Phillips' five interceptions are truly remarkable. Blackmon having a better grade than him means quite a bit. Phillips is the same guy who has two pick-6's on the year already. Even just being in the same class as him is already a huge enough honor.
Do the better grade and better PD numbers mean that Blackmon is definitely better, and definitely better than the rest of the conference? Well, again, there's great competition. That likely won't be known until after the season is over. Blackmon clearly is putting himself in position to be named that First-Team All-Conference guy, however.
Advanced analytics do matter, and USC Football CB1 Mekhi Blackmon clearly is passing that test.
And the best part for Mekhi Blackmon is that some of his toughest battles for USC Football are already behind him. For instance, his matchup with Jacob Cowing and Dorian Singer is already done with. His matchup with Elijhah Badger is already done with.
He'll still have to face off against Jeremiah Hunter and Jake Bobo in these next few weeks, but it's nice to see him grading this well at this point in the season too. And those upcoming matchups will likely tell the story on if Blackmon truly is the top corner or not.
Hunter will be this week's competition for Blackmon, as he comes into the game against USC having 544 receiving yards. That's top nine in the conference. It'll be a big test for Blackmon, but one that he certainly can handle.