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Jaguars give up little to get draft's top WR

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Recent posts by Arthur Arkush

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Posted April 26, 2012 @ 8:54 p.m. ET
By Arthur Arkush

The NFL’s worst passing offense from a season ago just took a significant step in the right direction.

The Jaguars sent their first- and third-round picks to the Buccaneers in order to move up two spots to select former Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon with the fifth overall pick. Blackmon immediately fortifies a position the Jaguars have struggled to fill since Jimmy Smith's last season in 2005.

Although Jaguars GM Gene Smith in recent weeks expressed a desire to move down, he is no stranger to moving up. Smith sent Jacksonville’s first- and second-round picks to the Redskins last April to move up six spots to select QB Blaine Gabbert. One year earlier, he sent a pair of second-rounders to the Patriots to nab CB Derek Cox.

This is another bold move for Smith, who correctly identified his club's greatest need and didn't have to give up a king's ransom to address it. Before trading up to acquire Blackmon, the Jaguars added a pair of pass catchers, Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans, during free agency. Last offseason, Smith took a position of weakness, linebacker, and turned it into a team strength by signing Paul Posluszny and Clint Session. The hope is that Smith has pulled off a similar feat this offseason, as he has dramatically increased the talent level and potential production of the WR stable.

Another factor that makes this move by Smith noteworthy is that many evaluators had hung the dreaded “character concern” tag on Blackmon during the scouting process. Smith, who values character and stability off the field as much as any GM in football, is either fully confident that Blackmon can stay focused and become a legitimate NFL star, or he thought the need outweighed the potential risk.

Any way you slice it, the Jaguars are a far better football team than they were when the evening began. They gave up just a fourth-round pick to acquire the consensus top wideout in the draft, while continuing to accomplish their top goal of the offseason: putting QB Blaine Gabbert in the best position to be successful in 2012.

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