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Inside the Jaguars



Shad Khan couldn't hide his pleasure.

He also couldn't hide how impressed he was with a draft process that resulted in the Jaguars selecting Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon in the first round Thursday. On Friday, Khan praised Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith and Head Coach Mike Mularkey.

"I was amazed with all the heavy lifting and hard work that Gene and his staff had put together," Khan said.

Khan said he had been anxious to see the draft process to get a chance to understand it and ensure "it was logical and robust from an engineering viewpoint."

"It is a little overwhelming," Khan said.

Khan, who purchased the Jaguars in January, said while he expected the final days of the process to be similar to cramming for a final exam, he was struck by what he called a "Zen"-like calm in the days leading to the draft.

"It was quite different," Khan said. "It was almost calm, relaxed, soothing. All of the heavy lifting had been done. Some of the mysteries were revealed to me a couple of days ago, so really Tuesday and Wednesday is when I saw the big picture. It was a huge amount of work and it left me with a much bigger appreciation of what it takes.

"It's 364 days they (the scouts) work to get us to the right position."

Khan said he also was impressed with how Mularkey worked with the scouting department.

"The bottom line is about results, and when it was all over, here we are: we have Justin," Khan said.


Khan said the selection of Blackmon hardly could have been a better scenario.

Not only did Blackmon address a need at the receiver position, and not only was he a talent that merited a Top 10 selection, but he also has been a popular choice among fans.

"What's wonderful is it's great for the team, but also the fans relate to it," Khan said. "Not all of those (available players) would give you the elation."

While there were reports Thursday that Khan coveted Blackmon, Smith said on Friday Khan allowed him, Mularkey and Director of Player Personnel Terry McDonough to make the decision.

"This is really a team process driven obviously by Gene," Khan said. "One of the privileges you have as an owner is to be able to put your two cents in – not do it in a destructive manner, but in a constructive manner."


Among those at EverBank Field Friday upon Blackmon's arrival: second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The two had played against one another in college, with Gabbert having played for Missouri and Blackmon having played at Oklahoma State. Gabbert also had sent Blackmon a congratulatory text on Thursday, but Friday was their first extended conversation.

"It was nice communicating here in person and meeting him, and just getting a feel for him," Blackmon said. "I think everything's going to work out well and we're going to be great out there on the field.

"I think it's very important, just so you get a feel for each other and just so we know we're on the same page. We're both going to be going for the same goals, and that's just to help this team get better."


"Certainly, Justin was a player we did target. He's a guy who certainly fits what we want in terms of a guy who can make an impact on and off the field."


"We are thrilled to have Justin here. He's an impact player for us, because he's a football player. There's not one particular thing he does better than the other. He's a complete player. He does it all. He's unselfish in everything he does. I know our team's going to be glad to have him not just on the field, but in the locker room."


"I'm glad to be here and ready to get to work. It's surreal, but it's an exciting time and we're just taking it as it goes. It was a dream come true."


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 second-round selection for the team.

* *


It's hard not to be impressed with Blackmon. I had the opportunity to fly with Blackmon from New York to Jacksonville Friday morning, and spoke one on one with him for about a half hour. He was well-spoken, answering confidently and clearly – and, it seemed, honestly. Many athletes are well-spoken and many come across as being rehearsed. What was impressive about Blackmon was not only was he confident and engaging, but the rest of his family was, too – including his 11-year-old sister Avamarie. This is an impressive group, and talking to Warren Blackmon, Sr., and Donna you get the idea their children are focused, driven people. What does that mean to Blackmon as a football player? Perhaps nothing, but it would be surprising if Blackmon is anything less than a solid, driven person who is motivated to succeed just as much in the NFL as he was before reaching professional football. That's no guarantee of anything, but it's a good start.


*Blackmon wore No. 81 at the Oklahoma State, the same number now worn by veteran wide receiver Laurent Robinson, who recently signed with the team as a free agent. Robinson tweeted Friday that he was still wearing No. 81, but Blackmon said he will wear whatever number he is issued. "I wouldn't say it's near and dear to my heart," Blackmon said. "I'm not too picky on the number."

*Khan drew laughter when asked if he believed the offense would be improved next season: "I think it's going to be far, far better. Now, maybe that's not saying much, because we were (ranked) 32. Maybe I can make a bold prediction: we're definitely going to be better."

*Khan said he expects the Jaguars to be in the postseason next season: "Of course I expect to be in the playoffs. You shouldn't be in this sport if you don't expect it."

*Gabbert spoke to the media at EverBank Field, and said he already sees benefits from on-field work and meetings that didn't take place last off-season because of the lockout. "We're already ahead of where we were last year," he said.

*Blackmon's trip to Jacksonville Friday was about more than meeting with the media and shaking hands with coaches. He met with coaches at 1:30 p.m. to begin studying the offense and the playbook. "We're going to get right into it so we can get up to speed," Mularkey said.

*Gabbert wasn't the only player who texted Blackmon Thursday. He also received a text from running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who not only congratulated him but said he wanted to play him in Madden again. Blackmon and Jones-Drew played once before – when Blackmon beat the NFL's leading rusher from last season in the Madden Bowl in the week leading to this past January's Super Bowl.

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