NFL Draft: Marqise Lee

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars already were not planning on having suspended receiver Justin Blackmon in 2014.

What they did Friday night makes it pretty clear that they're not planning on having him -- period.

The Jaguars took a pair of receivers in the second round of the NFL draft -- Marqise Lee with the 39th pick and traded up to take Allen Robinson with the 61st selection -- and plan on both being in the starting lineup in the season opener alongside Cecil Shorts. They're also going to be the building blocks, along with No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles, of the Jaguars' offense for years to come.

[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports"We haven't heard much [from Justin Blackmon] and it doesn't sound like it's going in the right direction," coach Gus Bradley said.
Blackmon was once viewed in the same way, but three violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy and an indefinite suspension has the fifth overall pick in 2012 clearly out of the Jaguars' future plans.

"There's some unknowns there," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said of Blackmon, who has 93 receptions for 1,280 yards in two seasons. "You don't know how it's working out. I just don't want to shut it off. I was hoping that it would be better than maybe where it's going, but we'll see.

"We haven't heard much [from Blackmon], and it doesn't sound like it's going in the right direction. Just like [general manger] Dave [Caldwell] said: 'We can't count on him.'"

Caldwell said he didn't want to address Blackmon's status again since he spoke about it during the Jaguars' pre-draft luncheon, but he did say the team cannot cut Blackmon while he's suspended. When asked if they would cut him when he was reinstated: "If that happens."

By taking Lee and Robinson, though, the message is pretty clear. Caldwell had the 6-foot, 192-pound Lee as the No. 1 receiver on their board and was surprised to see him still available when the second round began. He was worried Lee wouldn't make it to 39 and tried to work out a trade with Houston, which had the first pick.

But Lee kept sliding and the Jaguars quickly snatched him up. Lee has the playmaking ability that the Jaguars receiving corps has lacked on a consistent basis. He caught 248 passes for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons with the Trojans, including 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012.

"He's explosive," Caldwell said. "He can make defenders miss. He's very instinctive. He's got a feel for zones. He can separate in and out of breaks very well. When he gets the ball in his hands, he's a threat to take it to the house.

"He's a playmaker, and we need playmakers."

The 6-3, 220-pound Robinson is the big, physical receiver the Jaguars have lacked for years. He caught 177 passes for 2,479 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons at Penn State. He was the Jaguars' No. 2 receiver, and they traded their third-round pick (70th overall) and a fifth-round pick (150th overall) to San Francisco to get him.

"This is a big target, and big targets are good in this league," Caldwell said.

Especially when you can count on them.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The pick: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

My take: The Jaguars traded their third-round pick (70th overall) and a fifth-round pick (150th overall) to San Francisco for the 61st overall selection and took Robinson. The Jaguars got the big, physical receiver they needed in the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Robinson, who caught 177 passes for 2,479 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons at Penn State. That including a junior season in which he caught 97 balls for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns despite playing with a freshman quarterback. The Jaguars will pair him with Marqise Lee, whom they took with the 39th pick, to give them a young tandem that can hopefully grow along with rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.

Goodbye, Justin?: If there was any doubt that the Jaguars have pretty much given up on receiver Justin Blackmon, Robinson’s selection should all but cement it. GM David Caldwell said the team has already planned on not having him in 2014 and coach Gus Bradley said Friday night that he had hoped things would have gone better than they have. The Jaguars have had little contact with Blackmon and he still must apply for reinstatement and likely will have to serve an additional suspension before being cleared.

What’s next: The Jaguars have seven picks in Rounds 4-7 Saturday and are expected to address offensive line, running back and pass-rusher.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The pick: The Jaguars got their first-round pick some help by taking USC receiver Marqise Lee with the seventh pick of the second round (39th).

My take: Lee was considered a first-round talent but slid into the second round because teams are concerned with the sprained left MCL that he suffered last season, according to multiple reports. Even so, this is a fantastic pick because it addresses the team's biggest need on offense after quarterback. He fits the qualities the Jaguars were searching for in a receiver: size and play-making ability. Lee (6 feet, 195 pounds) had a monster sophomore season (118 catches, 1,721 yards, 14 TDs) but he was hurt by his knee injury and poor QB play last season (57 catches, 791 yards). Lee also has experience as a kickoff returner.

The Blackmon factor: The Jaguars needed to make receiver a priority because of the uncertainty surrounding Justin Blackmon, the team's first-round pick in 2012. Blackmon is serving an indefinite suspension because of his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy and general manager David Caldwell said last week that the team was not planning on having Blackmon in 2014.

What's next: The Jaguars should continue to address needs on offense in the third round, likely taking an offensive lineman in the third round with the 70th overall selection.
After parting ways with Darren Sproles and Lance Moore this offseason, the New Orleans Saints no longer have any experienced punt returners on the roster.

Third-year running back Travaris Cadet has shown some ability as a kickoff returner over the past two years, and the Saints may try him out in the punt-return job, as well. Or they might make a kick returner a priority in the draft.

New Orleans could certainly use some more juice in their return game after being middle-of-the-road in that area in recent years, even when Sproles was around.

The Saints could go one of two routes in the draft. They could target a top wide receiver that is capable of playing a dual role, or they could snag one of the top pure returners in the middle or later rounds.

If they choose the first route, three receivers could potentially fit the bill in Round 1: LSU's Odell Beckham Jr., USC's Marqise Lee and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks. All three of those prospects would be worthy of the Saints' pick at No. 27 based on their receiving ability alone, since a big-play receiver ranks among New Orleans' top needs.

Of those three, only Beckham was a standout punt returner in college, averaging more than nine yards per return over his final two seasons, with two touchdown returns in 2012. Cooks was a part-time punt returner last year, while Lee was more of a kickoff return specialist with two career kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Later in the draft, ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said there are two players that stand out above all others as the best return men in this year's class -- Kent State's Dri Archer and Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas.

"Those are the two guys who jump out. Tremendous versatility," Kiper said. "I also think John Brown is an underrated guy, a sleeper type out of Pittsburgh State. Returned punts, kicks, did a great job, also caught the ball very well, was explosive."

All three of those dual runner/receiver types could also serve as some fun new toys for Saints coach Sean Payton to work with on offense now that Sproles is gone.

Thomas (5-foot-9, 174 pounds) is the most well-known of the bunch, having starred as an all-purpose threat for the Ducks for three years. Thomas scored 18 touchdowns in both 2011 and 2012 (including at least one rushing TD, receiving TD, kickoff return TD and punt return TD during his sophomore year). He battled an ankle injury last year and finished with only 11 total touchdowns.

Thomas ran a surprisingly "slow" 40-yard dash time of 4.50 seconds at the NFL scouting combine but bounced back with a reported time of 4.39 at Oregon's pro day.

Archer, meanwhile, dropped jaws with his time of 4.26 seconds at the combine -- one of the fastest in history. The 5-foot-8, 173-pounder was mostly a kickoff returner in college but could potentially do both in the pros. Like Thomas, he had his best year in 2012 with 23 total touchdowns before an ankle injury limited him to 11 total touchdowns as a senior.

Brown (5-foot-10, 179) had three punt return touchdowns and two kickoff return touchdowns in his career, while also serving as one of Division II's top wide receivers. He caught 61 passes for 1,198 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. He ran the 40 in 4.34 seconds at the combine.

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