The hype surrounding most top 10 picks is almost always unrealistic. They come in to the league immensely talented, but with very little experience, and have the added caveat of being drafted by a team that is generally one of the worst in the league… Hence the top 10 draft pick. The hype around the Jacksonville Jaguars #5 pick, Justin Blackmon, was no different. Blackmon is a 2-time Biletnikoff winner (2010 & 2011) which is awarded annually to college football’s most outstanding wide receiver and a 2-time consensus all-american. He also currently holds the NCAA records for the most consecutive 100 yard receiving games and the most 200 yard receiving games in the history of the NCAA. it would be easy to make the argument that Justin Blackmon is the most decorated wide receiver to enter the NFL in the last decade, if not ever.
Even with the aforementioned pedigree, a 2nd DUI arrest and a 12-day contract hold out seemed to have most NFL pundits tempering their expectations of the former Oklahoma State Cowboy, with some even suggesting the Jaguars had reached for him at #5 in the 2012 draft. Reports surfaced of the rookie struggling to grasp the playbook, and what seemed to be such a slam-dunk pick for our hometown Jags was now being doubted by several analysts both locally and nationally.
Until he stepped on the field.
Like he has done at every level of the game to date, Justin instantly showed the physical ability that warranted the many collegiate awards and a top draft pick. He and Blaine Gabbert had a noticeable rapport right from the start, beginning the drive with the first pass as well as capping the drive with a 14-yard touchdown strike. He followed up his 4 catch, 48 yard, 1 touchdown performance in his first game with an even more impressive 4 catch, 72 yard showing against the Ravens Thursday night. The rookie wide receiver has shown in 2 short weeks the ability to consistently get separation and make the tough catches in traffic look effortless. More than anything, what radiates from JB’s play is a passion and determination to make plays. He seemingly has a burning desire to be great; an unwillingness to be tackled. Very few men can line up against the best athletes in the world and have his talent overwhelm those who line up against him. We aren’t looking at just a possession receiver, a player with upside, a slot guy, or any other cliche used to describe a pass-catcher with limited abilities. We are witnessing the emergence of a bona-fide STUD. A play-making, dominant force that defenses will have to account for on each and every offensive snap, along the same lines as a Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson.
The single-most important addition to Blaine Gabbert’s development (which is sure to be the most-talked about story-line for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season) is not his off-season work (although it may have been great) and it’s not the new coaching staff (which is far and away superior to what we suffered through last season). Adding a Perennial Pro-Bowler and elite weapon in Justin Blackmon is. There aren’t many players who live up to the hype and expectations that a top 5 pick in today’s NFL is saddled with. I’m here to tell you that this pick will go down as the best in Jaguars history… Kudos, Gene Smith, now sit back and enjoy the show!
– Brad Barrell
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