Back in 2012, the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Justin Blackmon fifth overall out of Oklahoma State University, despite concerns about his focus and character stemming from a DUI arrest during his time in Stillwater. For all the times when “character concerns” needlessly plummet a talented player’s draft stock and turn him into a bargain before becoming a footnote on a successful career, Blackmon has been a notable example of when a team fails to heed the warnings and gets burned.
Blackmon, still serving an indefinite suspension levied early in the 2013 season for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, was arrested for DUI again at 4:45 Saturday morning in Oklahoma, and if any Jags fans were holding out hope that Blackmon was still getting his act together to return to uniform, those hopes have pretty much been snuffed out.
In fact, before the season even started, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell told ESPN that he didn’t have high hopes for Blackmon ever returning:
“I have not heard anything and I guess I harbor a little bit of hope, but realistically I think when you’re away from the game for two and a half years, what you were once is not what you probably will be,” Caldwell said. “Your skills do erode, and especially if you’re not staying in tip-top shape and you’re not in football shape.
“I don’t know to expect, but I would say common sense would probably be if you haven’t played football in two and a half years, apparently that’s not a priority for you.”
The funny thing is, even though the Jaguars once again have a losing record and are all but eliminated from playoff contention, Blackmon is the one draft bust they don’t miss all that much. Wide receiver is the deepest position on the roster, as they have two sophomores in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns who look like potential stars with whom young QB Blake Bortles — with an impressive 31 passing TDs on the year — can grow. Even their highest wideout picked in the 2014 draft, Marqise Lee, has yet to deliver on his promise, but still has loads of talent.
What’s more, the entire Jaguars offense has been impressive this year. Rookie running back T.J. Yeldon has been great in spurts before getting injured recently, and tight end Julius Thomas, a big free agent signing, took a while to get healthy, but has become a dangerous red zone weapon once again. The biggest barrier between the Jaguars and playoff contention is the defense.
Maybe that’s the biggest reason why we won’t see Blackmon in an NFL uniform again. The Jaguars haven’t exactly been missing him, and he’s showed no urgency to salvage his career. It’s a shame, considering the obvious talent he had and the implications for Blackmon’s personal life, but it hasn’t produced the kind of heartbreak that you’d expect in Jacksonville.
(Via Big Cat Country)