All of the attention Friday was on the sad story of Browns receiver Josh Gordon, who appears to be throwing away his career. ESPN reported he faces a yearlong suspension due to another violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.
But elsewhere in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars made it clear they are moving on from another troubled yet incredibly talented young receiver, Justin Blackmon. Blackmon was suspended during last season for multiple failed drug tests.
Jacksonville drafted USC receiver Marqise Lee early in the second round, and Penn State receiver Allen Robinson later in that round. Picking Lee made sense, and then the Robinson selection was a clear message that if Blackmon ever comes back and plays for Jacksonville, it's a bonus. The team confirmed that it isn't expecting anything from Blackmon in 2014, at least.
"I think we've moved on for this year," said Jaguars general manager David Caldwell, who added nothing more on Blackmon according to the Jacksonville Times-Union.
It's a disappointing story from all angles. Blackmon was the fifth overall pick for the Jaguars two years ago, and Jacksonville can't afford to throw away picks like that. Blackmon played like a top-five pick, when he played. He had 29 catches and 415 yards in just four games last season. He's just 24 but his promising career is in serious jeopardy. If he does save his career, it will probably happen in a new NFL city.
The Jaguars moved on Friday with Lee and Robinson. They could be very good players. But the Jaguars probably didn't want to use more high picks to replace the fifth pick of a draft two years ago. It's hard to declare any winners in that situation.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from the second day of the draft:
Oakland Raiders: What the heck? No crazy reaches. No goofy move to secure the player with the best 40-time in the draft. Just good, prudent and patient picks for Oakland.
Outside linebacker Khalil Mack was a nice pick at No. 5 overall. Instead of panicking with their second-round pick they waited and grabbed Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, who was the top quarterback on Oakland's board, according to some reports including the San Francisco Chronicle (feel free to not believe that since every player "was the top player on our board" if you ask a coach or GM). Even the third-round pick, big guard Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State, helps a rebuilt offensive line.
And none of them were drafted just because of their fast 40 time. Nice draft, Oakland.
Wide receivers: While it's a tough time to be a running back entering the NFL, it's pretty good to be a wideout. This was a deep class and many teams added some borderline first-round talent on the second day. Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson (Jaguars), Jordan Matthews (Eagles), Paul Richardson (Seahawks), Davante Adams (Packers), Cody Latimer (Broncos, like Peyton Manning needed another receiver) and Jarvis Landry (Dolphins) were second-round picks. Donte Moncrief, who went to the Colts, is a third-rounder to watch.
It's a full-blown passing league and with all the talent coming in at receiver, that trend is going to continue.
San Francisco 49ers: The first-round pick, safety Jimmie Ward, seemed like a bit of a risk, but the second day was solid all around for the 49ers. They traded for Bills receiver Stevie Johnson, who helps in their aim of a Super Bowl title. Then running back Carlos Hyde, a second-round pick, ensures the 49ers stay deep there. Of the third-round picks, center Marcus Martin might have been the top center in the draft, linebacker Chris Borland was a good value and now the team doesn't need to rush NaVorro Bowman back from injury, and offensive tackle Brandon Thomas, who tore his knee during an April workout, came at a discount and can be stashed on injured reserve for a year for this deep team.
The 49ers are a well-run organization, and the way they filled some holes on Friday was a good example of that.
St. Louis Rams: The Rams were one of the winners on Day 1, and they made two nice picks on the second day as well.
First St. Louis took Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who was a great college player but has the misfortune of being 5-foot-8. That's the main reason he wasn't a first-round pick. The Rams are going to use him in many ways as a fifth defensive back, a role he'll excel in.
Then the Rams took the best player available in the third round when Auburn running back Tre Mason fell to them. Zac Stacy had a good rookie year, but he'll be more efficient splitting the load with Mason, who like Stacy was very productive in the SEC. The Rams are building something really good.
Cleveland Browns: Cleveland couldn't even bask in the Johnny Manziel glow for 24 hours. All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon reportedly faces a year suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Then ESPN reported free-agent receiver addition Nate Burleson fractured his arm in a minicamp last week and will miss the rest of OTAs. Cleveland didn't draft a receiver, which puts new quarterback Manziel in a tough spot.
We're sorry, Cleveland. You don't deserve this. This bad streak has to end sometime. Keep the faith.
Will Sutton and Louis Nix: A year ago, these two were star defensive linemen in college football. Sutton had 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss for Arizona State in 2012. That same season Nix, not decorated linebacker Manti Te'o, was credited by some as the real reason Notre Dame's defense was dominant and carried the team to the BCS Championship Game.
Another year in college wasn't kind. Sutton, who is an undersized tackle, tried playing at a heavier weight and had just four sacks last season. Nix is an oversized tackle, and had some knee issues. They were taken back-to-back in the third round, Sutton to the Bears at No. 82 and Nix to the Texans. The best guess is one or both will end up being very good value picks. But both probably expected before last season that the 2014 draft would go a little better for them.
Ka'Deem Carey and Andre Williams: These are two players who play the wrong position for this era. Both running backs lit up college football last year. In another time, they'd have been drafted already. But the first three rounds came and went and they're still on the board.
Carey left Arizona a year early, and he wasn't wrong. His stock wasn't getting higher after a 1,885-yard season, especially after a 1,929-yard season in 2012. Staying in school another year wouldn't have changed the fact that NFL teams don't invest in running backs anymore, and he would have risked an injury. Williams had 2,177 yards last season, but like Carey he saw eight running backs (including ones from Towson and Georgia Southern) taken ahead of him. Both big-name backs have a chance to be very good NFL players, they're just going to do so after not being drafted very high.
Philadelphia Eagles: As underwhelming as their first-round pick of Louisville outside linebacker Marcus Smith was (most experts considered it a reach), it was only fair to wait for Day 2 and see how they addressed their other defensive issues. Then they didn't.
There was no cornerback or safety or another pass rusher or defensive lineman selected by Philadelphia. There were two receivers, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. Matthews was the second-round pick and while he put up great numbers in the SEC at Vanderbilt, you could argue other receivers on the board like Paul Richardson, Cody Latimer and Davante Adams were better. And the Huff pick won't help the defense.
The Eagles have made some odd picks and still have a lot of holes. We'll see if they knew what they were doing.
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