In a recent mock draft set up with Zoneblitz that was organized through a number of Fansided websites’ editors and writers as well as independent sites, I chose to select Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State University for the Jaguars. Quite frankly, I was astounded that he was on the board.
But he was. Sitting there like a king among kings, waiting to make the Jaguars the competitors that they knew they could be.
But this was all reliant on the teams in front of the Jaguars making different selections than I anticipated. Sure, players like Morris Claiborne, Matt Kalil, and the two quarterbacks RGIII and Andrew Luck were predictably off the board, but so was WR Michael Floyd to the St. Louis Rams at number six and Trent Richardson at number four to the Bucs.
I’m not as shocked by the Trent Richardson pick since his value has been consistently high since well before the draft. But the Michael Floyd pick at number six baffled me. I understand that these aren’t the trending picks across the interwebs, but it would appear that at least some people are starting to rank Floyd as the better wide receiver prospect.
It’s kind of similar to the Cam Newton vs Blaine Gabbert predicament in the 2011 draft. Or the Peyton Manning vs Ryan Leaf debate in 1998. There is always a player that is gifted at his position and anticipated to be the top player taken at the position. Last year, that player was Cam Newton. Everyone knew he was the best QB in the class that could make an instant impact.
But every year a player challenges for that title. Some people had Blaine Gabbert listed as the better quarterback before the 2011 draft. He had good showings at the combine and his pro day and had been wowing people with his attitude, work ethic, and interpersonal communication. Ultimately the first pick still went to Cam and the Panthers are probably better for it (based on Gabbert’s first season starting at least).
A similar story can be found with Leaf and Manning. Though it’s certainly one that is more compelling, a better read, and ends in tragedy for Leaf in a long, drawn-out story of bad attitude and drug abuse ending in a Montana imprisonment.
Now, I’m not saying Gabbert will forever be in Cam’s shadow or that he’ll be similar to Ryan Leaf, but the rise of receivers like Stephen Hill and Michael Floyd may be very beneficial for Jacksonville.
The St. Louis Rams are absolutely starved at receiver. It’s well known (and well documented). They aren’t as starved as the Jags, but they’re definitely keeping pace with ‘em. So what if the steady and dependable Floyd does beat out Blackmon as the first off the board? What if the speedy and flashy Stephen Hill is suddenly more enticing and makes more of a splash in the already turmoiled St. Louis area?
I’m not certain if it’ll happen like that, but it’s possible. It wouldn’t be the first time that combine stars are taken before the inevitable supreme talent that makes teams wish they hadn’t swung and missed on the “fresher” more popular prospect.
But it could happen.
And if it does, then the Jags are going to have one hell of an opportunity. An opportunity so tasteful that it will make drafting a defensive end in the first round seem ludicrous!
– Luke N. Sims