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Jags GM not counting on Justin Blackmon being available in 2014

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Justin Blackmon was the first wide receiver drafted in 2012. (USATSI)
Justin Blackmon was the first wide receiver drafted in 2012. (USATSI)

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Two years ago, the Jaguars took wide receiver Justin Blackmon fifth overall. The hope was that he would give quarterback Blaine Gabbert, drafted 10th overall the year before, a legit downfield target.

It never happened; Gabbert was traded to the 49ers in March for a sixth-round pick, and the NFL suspended Blackmon indefinitely last November for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. On Friday, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell didn't sound optimistic that Blackmon would play in 2014 either.

"It's not something we're counting on," Caldwell said, via Mark Long of the Associated Press.

The team has had little contact with Blackmon, and for coach Gus Bradley that means "we've got to get some guys in here at the position."

Blackmon was considered the best wideout in the 2012 draft class, but the on-field praise came with off-field concerns. Barely a month after he was drafted, Blackmon was arrested on DUI charges. And he missed the first four games of the 2013 season for a previous substance-abuse violation.

While an indefinite suspension is, by definition, open-ended, previous suspensions have, in general, been lifted after eight games. That would mean Blackmon would be available to the Jags to start 2014, but Caldwell would be "relatively surprised" if the wideout returned at any point next season.

In 20 games from 2012-13, Blackmon ha 93 receptions for 1,280 yards and six touchdowns, numbers made even more impressive when you consider that the Jags had one of the league's worst offenses over that span.

As it stands, Jacksonville's wide receiver depth chart includes Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders, followed by Denard Robinson and Mike Brown. Put another way: That's one proven starter and some guys with upside. The draft is deep at wide receiver so the team will almost certainly look to add depth at the position next week, though it probably won't happen in the first round.

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