The Jacksonville Jaguars had a chance to sign edge defender Chandler Jones earlier this year but this wasn’t the first time they could have acquired him. Back in the 2012 NFL Draft, they could have taken him with the fifth overall pick but took wide receiver Justin Blackmon instead. They correct that in a recent do-over.
Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report recently redid one pick for each NFL team over the last decade and had the Jaguars taking Jones at No. 5 in 2012. Davenport notes that Blackmon was regarded as the top wide receiver prospect of this class but ended up appearing in just 20 games due to multiple suspensions. He points out that since 2012 wasn’t a good year to draft a receiver, Jacksonville would have been better off taking Jones.
"There wasn’t another superstar receiver who came out of the class of 2012 (although T.Y. Hilton had himself quite a career), so rather than go the wideout route here, it’s the defense that will benefit from this do-over. By getting one of the most productive pass-rushers of the past decade. Since being drafted 21st by the New England Patriots that year, Chandler Jones has made quite the habit of making opposing quarterbacks miserable. A four-time Pro Bowler, Jones has topped 10 sacks seven times, including six times over the past seven years."
Blackmon had a solid rookie campaign, playing all 16 games with 14 starts and hauling in 64 receptions for 865. However, his arrest for driving under the influence before the start of the 2012 season was a sign of things to come. The former Cowboy was slapped with a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy in 2013 and went on to miss the first four games of the season. During Jacksonville’s BYE Week he got suspended again — this time indefinitely — and never played another snap in the pros.
The Jaguars could have used Chandler Jones in 2012.
Justin Blackmon isn’t an outlier. He’s one of many prospects the Jaguars have drafted in the first round that failed to live up to expectations. The following year, they took Luke Joeckel’s second overall and also flopped. In fact, you can pick pretty much every year in the 2010s and Jacksonville surely missed on it. The exception are 2019, when they selected outside linebacker Josh Allen seventh overall and 2016, when they made cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the No. 5 pick.
Jones would have certainly been a great addition to the Jaguars’ defensive front but it’s hard to tell if things would have worked out. After all, the team struggled to retain their homegrown talent. Ramsey was one of their few superstars but opted to trade him to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for two first-round picks (and a fourth). Similarly, the Jags traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and let wide receiver Allen Robinson, just to new a few. Had Jones been drafted by the Jags, it’s uncertain if they would have given him a second contract.
Blackmon flopped in the NFL despite the fact that he was the most talented wide receiver prospect of his class. There’s not much the Jags can do about it but look at what went wrong and avoid repeating the same mistakes. This could come in handy in the 2022 draft, which is less than two weeks away.