Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Missing training camp won't be on the list of reasons why Jaguars rookie receiver Justin Blackmon won't be a solid fantasy option this season.
Blackmon became the last 2012 first-rounder to sign a contract Monday when he inked a four-year deal with Jacksonville, which will presumably allow him to get in training camp early enough to factor into the team's plans for Week 1.
However, you won't find me drafting Blackmon this season. Let someone else take the gamble on the first-round draft pick, a gamble that more often than not in the last five seasons has been a complete failure. But we'll get to that later.
First of all, drafting Blackmon essentially amounts to endorsing quarterback Blaine Gabbert, a vote of confidence I'm not quite ready to cast. For Blackmon to succeed, Gabbert will have to be significantly better because future career backup Chad Henne is his understudy.
Plus, Blackmon is not guaranteed to be Gabbert's No. 1 target. After tight end Marcedes Lewis led the team with a pitiful 460 yards in 2011, the Jaguars were compelled to upgrade at the receiver position and snagged Laurent Robinson in free agency, signing him to a five-year contract after an 11-touchdown season with Tony Romo tossing him the ball in Dallas.
Regardless of what you think about the contract or about Robinson's fantasy value, the Jaguars certainly didn't sign him to sit the bench. Even if Blackmon is a superior talent, new Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey likely will feel obligated to give Robinson a shot to prove he is worth the money, especially with frugal owner Shad Khan overseeing things.
Considering Gabbert barely connected on 50 percent of his passes last season, Blackmon is going to have a difficult time establishing consistency in his rookie season if he has to defer to Robinson.
Then there is star running back Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout to consider. Last season's leading rusher has refused to report to camp unless he gets a new deal, and Khan has stated the running back won't receive any more money since he still has two years left on his current contract.
Fellow AFC South running back Chris Johnson of the Titans held out last season and experienced a decline, especially early in the season. If that happens to Jones-Drew, the Jaguars may struggle to churn out yards and get the ball into the red zone enough for two receivers to have fantasy success.
Now, let's look at the factor that may be most indicative of why Blackmon won't have a standout season. Simply put, only three rookie receivers drafted in the first-round of the NFL Draft have been worth the trouble in the last five seasons.
Take a look at the rookie statistics from the receivers selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2007.
Calvin Johnson - 48 receptions, 756 yards, 4 touchdowns
Demaryius Thomas - 22 receptions 283 yards 2 touchdowns
Dez Bryant - 45 receptions 561 yards 6 touchdowns
A.J. Green - 65 receptions 1057 yards 7 touchdowns
Julio Jones - 54 receptions 959 yards 8 touchdowns
Jonathan Baldwin - 21 receptions 254 yards 1 touchdown
Seventeen receivers were selected in round one since 2007 and only three even exceeded 800 yards in their rookie year, with only A.J. Green going over 1,000. Even "Megatron" Calvin Johnson took a year to hone his freakish abilities.
While there is something admittedly intriguing about a shiny new entity, a declining veteran is often a significantly safer choice. Don't confuse career potential with a high single-season ceiling and overlook the low floors rookie receivers often have. Let other owners in your league take a chance that Blackmon will be a WR3 or WR4 from the outset of his NFL career and I'll be more than happy to stick with vets like Reggie Wayne or take a chance on a second-year receiver like Baldwin to round out my receiving corps.
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