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Jacksonville Jaguars first-round pick Justin Blackmon is still learning the ins and outs of the NFL wide receiver position, according to general manager Gene Smith.
Justin Blackmon has had minimal impact on the Jacksonville Jaguars offense so far in his rookie year, which shouldn't be too much of a shock to anyone who's followed football in the past decade. Blackmon leads the team in targets so far on the season, partly because wide receiver Laurent Robinson has been dealing with injuries, but also because Blackmon seems to be one of those wide receivers who's like a running back, you need to feed them the football.
Jaguars general manager Gene Smith, who traded up to the fifth overall pick to draft Blackmon, doesn't seem to surprised at his slow start either.
"He's still learning how to play as an NFL wide receiver. Obviously the rules are a little different, where you can't have physical contact after 5 yards that you can in college until the ball is in the air," Smith told the Florida Times-Union. The corners are obviously better in terms of getting his release off the line. Just overall as a young receiver, just the details of the position, the better he gets at that, the more opportunities he'll have to make plays in our offense."
A lot of this falls in the range of the "no duh" category, but there are still some concerns Blackmon may not be able to work out at the next level. Blackmon seems to do well on comeback routes and routes over the middle as expected, but struggles to create separation down the field when a corner is playing him in press or man coverage.
While lately first-round wide receivers have made an impact, it's still not something you should hang on being a big part of your struggling pass offense.