Wide receiver Justin Blackmon was a force for the Jaguars ... when he was on the field. But after an indefinite suspension from the NFL, the former fifth overall pick is looking more and more like a bust.
The NFL Draft is a spectacle in which teams try to sift through a litany of statistics and information regarding hundreds of college football players. With the draft just more than a week away, the Jaguars, holding the third overall pick, are hoping to continue their rebuilding process.
Contrary to popular belief, the Jaguars weren’t always this bad at drafting. In fact, many of their first- and second-round picks played important roles for them. Players such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Marcus Stroud, Daryl Smith and Rashean Mathis all produced while in Jacksonville.
Recently, however, the team has had a very poor track record of drafting and it has reflected in their play in recent years. Who are the worst picks in the franchise’s history though? Here are the 10 worst picks made by the Jaguars since they became an NFL team in 1995.
10. EBEN BRITTON, OT, ARIZONA (2009, SECOND ROUND, 39TH OVERALL)
The former Wildcat was supposed to pair with 2009 first-round pick Eugene Monroe to bookend the offensive line for years. Monroe would play the left side, while Britton would play the right.
At first, the pick looked good as Britton started 15 games after beating out Tony Pashos for the starting job in the preseason. However, the rest of his career was hampered by injuries, and he would start only 15 games total over the next three seasons.
He was released after the 2012 season and signed with the Chicago Bears, where he hasn’t played a game. Pro Football Focus ranks him as one of the worst players drafted from 2009-2011 by the Jaguars.
9. ANDRE BRANCH, DT, CLEMSON (2012, SECOND ROUND, 38TH OVERALL)
During Branch’s final year at Clemson, he ranked first in the ACC with 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.
Despite reports of being inconsistent and a finesse player, he was taken early in the second round. He lasted only two seasons in the NFL, compiling seven sacks as a defensive end. He started three of the 29 games he appeared in.
The Jaguars could have taken cornerback Janoris Jenkins out of Florida or guard Cordy Glenn out of Georgia instead.
8. MIKE PEARSON, OT, FLORIDA (2002, SECOND ROUND, 40TH OVERALL)
The former Gator was an absolute behemoth of a prospect coming out of college, standing 6-7, 297 pounds. He was slated to be the replacement for longtime left tackle Tony Boselli and, at first, the pick seemed to work, as he started 27 of the 32 games in his first two years.
But over the next two seasons, he made just six starts in eight games. The combination of mediocre play and the team drafting Khalif Barnes in 2005 signaled the end of his tenure with the Jaguars. Pearson spent the rest of the 2005 season with the Jaguars and then never played in the NFL again.
7. JUSTIN BLACKMON, WR, OKLAHOMA STATE (2012, FIRST ROUND, FIFTH OVERALL)
Blackmon was brought into Jacksonville in order to give second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert the big-time wide receiver he needed. After becoming the first player in FBS history to record back-to-back 100-catch seasons, it seemed like an easy pick.
In his first season, Blackmon appeared to be turning the corner late, when he caught seven passes for 236 yards and a touchdown against the Houston Texans on Nov. 18. He ended 2012 with 64 catches for 865 yards and five touchdowns.
However, he was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. After returning, he put up huge games against the St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos in consecutive weeks. And then he was suspended indefinitely after Week 8 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy a second time.
To play in 2014, Blackmon must apply for reinstatement with the league. Blackmon is talented and still has time to turn things around, but if he can’t shake his substance abuse issues, he could wind up the Jaguars’ biggest bust of all time.
6. QUENTIN GROVES, DE, AUBURN (2008, SECOND ROUND, 52ND OVERALL)
The former Tiger possessed good speed and strength coming off the edge, even though it never fully materialized in college. Groves had 9.5 sacks his sophomore year but only three in his junior season.
The Jaguars didn’t seem to be worried and took him anyway. What ensued was a very short career with the franchise: two seasons, seven starts, and 2.5 sacks. He was shipped to Oakland for a fifth-round pick in April 2010.
5. MATT JONES, WR, ARKANSAS (2005, FIRST ROUND, 21ST OVERALL)
The former Arkansas quarterback impressed everyone at the NFL combine with his athleticism; he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 39.5 inches. Add that to his 6-6, 242-pound frame, and it made him an enticing prospect.
But this pick was probably doomed from the start, given that had never played wide receiver.He started four games over the course of his first three seasons.
He flashed potential, with 166 catches for 2,153 yards and 15 touchdowns over four seasons.
But off the field problems derailed his career. He was arrested for having a controlled substance in July 2008 and missed the final three games of the the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He was subsequently released by the Jaguars in March 2009 after he was jailed for breaking terms of a plea agreement related to his 2008 arrest.
He never played another down in the NFL.
The Jaguars could’ve taken four-time Pro Bowler Roddy White out of UAB. Three-time Pro Bowl quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers out of California was taken just three picks after Jones.
4. DERRICK HARVEY, DE, FLORIDA (2008, FIRST ROUND, EIGHTH OVERALL)
Harvey played nothing like a top-10 pick, racking up only eight sacks in three seasons with the team despite starting in 32 of the 47 games he appeared in. He was gone from the team after three seasons. He played five more games for the Denver Broncos before seeing his NFL career end after 2011.
Among the top players taken after Harvey were Pro Bowlers Jerod Mayo, Joe Flacco and Ryan Clady.
3. REGGIE WILLIAMS, WR, WASHINGTON (2004, FIRST ROUND, NINTH OVERALL)
Williams was a stud in college. In his sophomore and junior seasons, he caught a combined 183 passes for 2,563 yards and 19 touchdowns. Seeing that, the Jaguars envisioned him as the long-term replacement for Jimmy Smith. He was the third receiver picked in the draft behind Larry Fitzgerald (3rd overall) and Roy Williams (7th overall)
Unfortunately, Williams proved anything but an electrifying playmaker in the pros. After posting ordinary numbers in his first three seasons, there was a glimmer of hope that he was starting to turn the corner when he caught 10 touchdown passes in 2007.
2. R. JAY SOWARD, WR, USC (2000, FIRST ROUND, 29TH OVERALL)
It is hard not to put Soward as the worst pick in the team’s history considering he spent only one season with the team. But we cut this pick some slack since he was picked at the end of the first round.
Soward was considered an extremely talented receiver who never realized his potential at USC. His 831 receiving yards in his sophomore year were the most he had during his four-year college career.
Once in the NFL, he started two of the 13 games he appeared in for the Jaguars and caught 14 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown.
It was soon revealed that Soward struggled with alcohol abuse during his lone NFL season and was suspended several times for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He did not reapply for reinstatement after his last suspension and later tried to revive his career in the CFL and Indoor Football League.
1. BLAINE GABBERT, QB, MISSOURI (2011, FIRST ROUND, 10TH OVERALL)
Coming out of Missouri, Gabbert had all the qualities you wanted in a NFL quarterback: a big arm, ideal size and plenty of college playing experience. Considering the Jaguars needed a quarterback, Gabbert’s selection with the 10th pick didn’t seem like much of a stretch.
In his rookie season, Gabbert was sacked 40 times and lost 14 fumbles. The sacks ranked as the third-most in the league, and the fumbles were tied for the most in the NFL. Furthermore, he had the second-worst completion percentage ahead of only Tim Tebow and his 65.4 passer rating was rated as one of the worst seasons ever measured by Football Outsiders.
After just three seasons and a 5-22 record as starter he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick.