In what was a bit of a surprise, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up from the 7th to 5th overall pick in the 2012 Draft to select Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Blackmon was widely considered the best receiver in the draft, but his landing spot will lead to some serious questions about his short-term fantasy value. With Blaine Gabbert expected to be the Jags’ starting QB – and Chad Henne the likely back-up – there’s good reason to downgrade Blackmon in fantasy drafts for at least 2012. Indeed, it’s unlikely that Blackmon will be able to have the same type of impact on Gabbert/Henne at the NFL level, but he should still be able to produce in the 50-650-5 range as a rookie. Not bad, but also not what A.J. Green accomplished in his first season in Cincinnati (65-1057-7).
From a dynasty perspective, however, there’s plenty of room for hope. Blackmon is a terrific prospect, arguably the best receiver in this draft and one of the better receiving prospects to come along in the past half-decade. A two-time winner of the Biletnikoff trophy as college football’s top wide receiver, he consistently demonstrated elite-level playmaking ability in his time with Oklahoma State. And there’s little doubt that Blackmon – who caught 121 passes for 1522 yards in 2011 – did a nice job of spiking QB Brandon Weeden’s value (don’t be surprised if Weeden goes later in the first round, perhaps to the Browns).
Meanwhile, Gabbert – the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft – will likely improve in his sophomore season, and the presence of Blackmon can only help. In a perfect storm, Gabbert will take a huge leap forward, justifying the Jags’ investment in him and helping to turn Blackmon into a short-term high-value fantasy asset. It’s not an impossibility, but the better bet would be to wait until 2013 or 2014 for Blackmon to emerge as an impact-level performer.