Justin Blackmon, the Jaguars first round pick of the 2012 draft, is developing tremendously just like everyone else currently. Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are all about learning and less about evaluating. OTAs present an opportunity for rookies, undrafted free agents, and veterans to all buckle down and learn the new systems, schemes, signals, etc. that will be implemented during the season.
Justin Blackmon, just like everyone else, is wrapping his head around an offensive scheme that is heavy on options and making the right reads. Blackmon is asking questions and getting it straightened out. In a scheme that ex-Bills player Lee Evans says is difficult to fully comprehend, that is a good thing.
Mike Mularkey, who used to be the head coach of the Buffalo Bills when Lee Evans was there, knows that asking questions is key to really understanding what is going on. This is the NFL and you can’t just fake it until you make it. Part of the transition to the pro level is a level of comprehension far above what you had to do in college and high school. No longer can a player like the Titans’ Kendall Wright go without ever reading a playbook, it now must be understood completely by you, your team, and the coaches. Everyone must be certain that you are on the same page.
By asking questions, you know where you need to be and when you need to be there.
OTAs are a short period of time when a lot of information is thrown at the players. Not everything will soak up like a sponge. But when your role is to be a difference maker for your quarterback, you need to soak up everything. But when it doesn’t stick on the first couple tries, there’s a reason the head coach, offensive coordinator, and wide receivers coach are there for you. By all reports, the latter – Jerry Sullivan – should be helping Blackmon learn how to be that difference maker with the Jags.
Blackmon has been getting a lot of reps in each day. In fact, he has seen the field far and away more than any other rookie on the squad right now (including recently signed 2nd round pick, defensive end Andre Branch). This is due in part because when he knows what he’s doing he looks good. Really good. The high tempo offense requires Blackmon to be on his A-game from the start. He needs to know where he’s going and what he needs to do better than anyone right now.
He’s made mistakes and been lost, but there is still plenty of time left before the Jaguars’ rookies hit training camp and have to have it all down pat.
On the whole, the offense is slowly being installed each day and every player is developing to a better level.
Blackmon has seen the field a lot and is becoming better each day. His development will help the Jaguars receiving corps grow and will help quarterback Blaine Gabbert by providing a consistent target on the outside to go with wide receivers Laurent Robinson, Lee Evans, and Mike Thomas (presumably).
We look forward to hearing more as OTAs develop further.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims