The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up into the Top 5 of the 2012 NFL Draft to take Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The moving up to get Blackmon was a bit of a surprise, but drafting him shouldn't have been. The Jaguars had a gaping hole at the wide receiver position, and while I didn't necessarily think he was worth a Top 10 pick, the Jaguars certainly did and made sure to get their man.
The question now will be what can we expect out of Blackmon in his first season with the Jaguars? I'll detail what I will expect out of him and why after the jump, but what will you guys/gals expect out of Blackmon in his first season with the team?
Unfortunately for Blackmon, because of where he was drafted and because of the Jaguars anemic passing offense the last four or five years, the expectations most people will have for him will be the moon. That's not really fair to Blackmon given the situation, but that's how it works when you go to a team who's been starved for a legit wide receiver since 2006 when Jimmy Smith retired.
There will be plenty of people who will expect Blackmon to be the No. 1 go-to receiver and eclipse 1,000 yards. That expectation isn't necessarily outlandish given that the NFL is now a passing league, but the fact remains is that he's still a rookie wide receiver and despite playing in the modern age, and rookie expectations are always better off tempered. There are guys like A.J. Green who eclipsed 1,000 yards and guys like Julio Jones who very likely would have if he had played all 16 games as rookies, but they're also different kinds of players.
Blackmon's biggest asset is his catch radius, despite being just under 6'2, so he should be a reliable short-area target for Blaine Gabbert. In my personal opinion, I see Blackmon as a very good possession receiver who can pick up yards after the catch (think of... what the Jaguars thought Reggie Williams would be) but isn't going to be a guy who beats a lot of teams down the field.
Some have compared Blackmon to Anquan Boldin, which I think is pretty accurate. Boldin is a bit bigger than Blackmon, which serves into his physical play, but in the end they're both elite (potentially in Blackmon's case) level possession wide receivers. Boldin took the first year of the NFL by storm, catching 101 passes for nearly 1,400 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Should that be expected from Blackmon? Absolutely not.
Personally, I'm expecting Blackmon to hit something around the Mike Sims-Walker level. In the 2009 season, Sims-Walker hauled in 63 catches and nearly 900 yards with 7 touchdowns. I would expect Blackmon to come close to that level, around 40-50 catches for around 600-700 yards with some touchdowns. Blackmon has the benefit of another guy across from him in Robinson, so the pressure won't all be on his shoulders.
How much Blackmon can do in the future as he matures in the league reamins to be seen, but I'm not expecting him to be the Jaguars primary receiver out of the gate.