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Inside the Jaguars

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TRUSTING HIS PEOPLE

As Gene Smith saw it, Shad Khan had a positive approach in his first draft.

Khan, who purchased the Jaguars in January, was in the draft room for the first time as owner, and while there were reports that he very much wanted the Jaguars' eventual selection – Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon – Smith said Khan didn't push the selection.

"He's a very good listener," Smith said of Khan.

Smith said he went over the Jaguars' draft plan in detail with Khan Wednesday, and while Khan had input, the decision-making was done by Smith, Director of Player Personnel Terry McDonough and Head Coach Mike Mularkey.

"He's got good ideas but he left it up to Mike and me and Terry," Smith said of Khan. "When you talk about the draft plan meeting, Mike was in there and Terry and I. We do a very thorough meeting with him (Khan) so he clearly understands what the options may be. So I think from that standpoint he trusted the work that was done and the people that were a part of it."

 

COMPETITIVE NATURE

As with any player selected in the Top 10 of the draft, Blackmon had every aspect of his game analyzed, praised and criticized in recent weeks.

The positives on Blackmon are that he was a productive college player, who made big plays in big games and who seemed to raise his game to the level necessary. Critics questioned his less-than-prototypical height and speed.

Smith was asked what sold him on Blackmon.

"He's a competitor," Smith said. "He attacks the ball. He's strong to the ball and strong with the ball. Anybody coming out of college can certainly improve. Receivers, in college, it's an adjustment. You're coming to a level now where you actually have to run a route.

"Sometimes in college if you're big and strong and the ball is in the air, they let you play. At this level, it's a different dynamic. There's a process to it. He has to earn his way, like any rookie coming in."

Smith said when assessing Blackmon he puts him somewhere between Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

"I know he's been compared to other players but I think he wants to come in here and be Justin Blackmon, so whatever he becomes through his work ethic and passion to be a good player in this league, that's up to him," Smith said. "He will define who he is once he gets in the league and has a chance to learn and to grow as a player."

WHAT SMITH SAYS

 "Now, we have an opportunity not only to win inside, but outside. That's when you become very difficult to defend.  That's where we're at, and I know our offensive staff clearly feels we'll take a large step toward a lot more playmaking in our offense."

 

WHAT MULARKEY SAYS

"He's got an edge to him. He's one of these guys who doesn't think he can be covered. That's pretty important at that position, to have that kind of confidence. I like that edge. He's a physical receiver that in our offense, he has to be able to block. He has shown he will block."

WHAT BLACKMON SAYS

 "I'm competitive, someone that likes to compete, go up and get the ball, not afraid to run across the middle. Someone that's going to give it all you've got every time you step inside the white line."

 

WHAT'S NEXT

The Jaguars have second- and third-round selections in the NFL Draft Friday, and will pick No. 6 in the second round and No. 7 in the third round. Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor will be at Radio City Music Hall to make the selection for the team. Blackmon will be in Jacksonville to meet with the coaching staff and front office and will speak at a press conference at noon.

 

TODAY'S TAKE

Was moving up for Justin Blackmon a good move? As with any draft pick, only time will answer that question, but in the world of quick-trigger analysis it should get a good grade. A big reason for that is the Jaguars moved up two spots to get a player they obviously coveted – and needed – and only had to give up a fourth-round selection in this year's draft do it. The Browns three selections earlier gave up a fourth, fifth and seventh to move up from No. 4 to 3, and there were other cases of teams giving up more to move up in the first round. That makes it a good draft-day move, and how Blackmon develops will determine if it's a good move for the franchise. A crucial point to remember is while Blackmon almost certainly will help the offense, receiver is traditionally a very difficult position to make a huge impact right away. Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson did not have 1,000-yard receiving seasons as rookies and they're generally believed to be two of the best receivers in the NFL. A reasonable expectation for Blackmon is to make the Jaguars better, and give defenses a player about which they have to worry. Gaudy statistics may not come for a season or two.

QUICK HITS

*Mularkey said the Jaguars have yet to spend much time considering just how to play Blackmon. He said those conversations will begin Friday. "You don't want to talk about guys until that draft pick comes," Mularkey said.

*Mularkey on what the selection of Blackmon means to Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert: "Blaine knew we're trying to help him out. Based on what took place last year with the production on his part and the offense's part, he knew we had to do something to try to help not just him but our offense and our team controlling the football like we like to do. So I know Blaine's happy about it. I kind of had a little idea; I heard he sent a message out to me in a roundabout way that it would sure be nice to get a guy like Blackmon in the draft. I have not talked to him but I'm sure he's very happy."

*Smith and Mularkey each said the presence of wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan will be a positive for Blackmon. Smith also said the presence of veterans such as Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans should help the transition to the NFL. "The nice thing is we have some veterans here to learn from," Smith said. *The Jaguars' selection of Blackmon at No. 5 marked the earliest selection for the franchise since they selected linebacker Kevin Hardy from Illinois in 1996. The team also selected offensive tackle Tony Boselli No. 2 overall in 1995, but hadn't selected in the Top 5 since

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