Jaguars would be surprised to see Justin Blackmon return in 2014
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell says it would be "relatively surprising" to have receiver Justin Blackmon on the field next season. Blackmon is suspended indefinitely without pay for repeated violations of the league's substance abuse policy.
Justin Blackmon played just four games for the Jaguars last season.
Phil Sears / USA TODAY Sports
By Ken Hornack
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The dwindling ranks of first-round draft picks on the roster of the Jacksonville Jaguars could be close to getting even smaller.
Wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who was taken fifth overall two years ago, remains on the Jaguars' reserve/suspended list after his second violation in less than a year of the NFL's substance abuse policy. General manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley reiterated Friday that though they are concerned about him as a person, they aren't banking on him being available for next season and beyond.
"Like I've said before, it's not something we're counting on," Caldwell said. "It would be something that would be relatively surprising, I think."
"It's hard," Bradley said. "But we just have to keep on going forward."
Blackmon, who had 29 receptions in four games prior to being suspended Nov. 1, was the last first-rounder from when Gene Smith was general manager of the Jaguars. With quarterback Blaine Gabbert and tackle Eugene Monroe being traded since the start of last season, the only remaining first-round picks are tackle Luke Joeckel (2013), defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (2010) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (2006).
Under terms of the suspension, the Jaguars are allowed to contact Blackmon via text message but cannot speak with him.
"We haven't gotten a whole lot of updates from the league (about) where he's at, to be honest with you," Caldwell said.
Blackmon's uncertain future has increased the possibility that the Jaguars will draft wide receiver Sammy Watkins from Clemson with the No. 3 pick Thursday night if he's still available.
"He's really competitive, really fast, explosive. So he's got a chance to do very well," Bradley said.
Watkins has been timed at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash and was a Florida state champion in the 200-meter dash in high school. As a junior at Clemson last year, he caught 101 passes, including 16 for 227 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
The last wide receiver to go third in the draft was Braylon Edwards from Michigan, taken by the Browns in 2005. Edwards, Larry Fitzgerald (2004) and Andre Johnson (2003) are the only players at that position to be taken third since 1980.