Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon finished the season with 64 receptions for 865 yards and five touchdowns, which was more than most realistically expected him to finish with. It started out rough for Blackmon, as he was arrested for a DUI before the season even started and then held out of all of training camp, missing some of the preseason.
Big Cat Country: Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook
Blackmon eventually got into camp however and was thrust into the starting lineup for the Jaguars, but was slow to get going, as a rookie usually is when put in a starting role. Blackmon actually played a lot more snaps than even the Jaguars probably wanted him to due to injuries at the wide receiver position and Blackmon really being the only receiver to stay healthy all season.
As ProFootballFocus notes, Blackmon's targets really went up in the final few games of the season, when the Jaguars were at times without both Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts III.
Blackmon was really struggling though his rookie campaign until a Week 11 game that saw him rack up 236 receiving yards, or 27 % of his season total of 865. His second half was much improved over his first, and the Jaguars really tried to get him the ball as he was targeted at least 10 times in each of the last four games. He finished the season with 1.72 Yards Per Route Run from the slot, good for eighth in the league.
Most here know I wasn't a huge fan of the selection of Blackmon, especially trading up for him to leap the St. Louis Rams, who wound up with a receiver in the fourth round who came close to Blackmon's production in Chris Givens, but Blackmon still was able to produce as a rookie much more than I thought he would and I appear to have been wrong on my initial assessment of his overall ability.
His numbers were inflated quite a bit by his 200+ yard performance against the Houston Texans, but he still put those numbers up and seemed to get a bit better each week as the season came to a close. I still have reservations as to what exactly Blackmon can be, but at least going forward the Jaguars seem to have a talented wide receiver on their roster, and that's saying a lot more than we've been able to say the past six seasons.
There is still a lot Blackmon needs to clean up in his game, like his route running and catching the ball with his hands consistently, but luckily Blackmon will still have receivers coach Jerry Sullivan to work with.