Justin Blackmon's second DUI arrest in a two-year span has many wondering if the Jacksonville Jaguars ignored serious warning signs before trading up in the 2012 NFL Draft to take the talented Oklahoma State wide receiver with the fifth overall pick.
I don't think the Jaguars erred, and here's why:
Blackmon wasn't viewed as a high-risk prospect by most NFL teams. He had one documented off-the-field issue (the DUI arrest in 2010), but my sources at Oklahoma State say they didn't express any major concerns about his character to NFL scouts in pre-draft interviews.
Sources at the school described Blackmon as smart, hard-working and reliable. He wasn't late to meetings or workouts. He showed up on time, worked extremely hard and set a good example for the younger players on the team. The sources said Blackmon never let his national accolades go to his head. He was raised in a strict military family and always was accountable, both on and off the field.
Scouts who interviewed Blackmon during the pre-draft process believed he was an honest, country kid who was easy to talk to and had nothing to hide. I talked to several of his teammates at various all-star games, and they were very positive in their comments about Blackmon. He wasn't described as a high-maintenance diva. Those who were close to the receiver actually described him as somewhat of a "nerd."
Obviously, Blackmon's most recent arrest is cause for concern. He has issues with alcohol and needs help. That being said, I don't think the Jaguars dropped the ball in their background efforts as a personnel department.
Gene Smith has earned a reputation around the league as an extremely meticulous, detail-oriented general manager. I've been on school visits with Jaguars scouts who have spent 15 minutes grilling an equipment manager for information on a player who doesn't even start for his school. They go above and beyond normal protocol when researching draft prospects.
This issue likely will cost Blackmon some money in his rookie contract and possibly earn him a suspension, but hopefully it serves as a wake-up call and helps him reach his full potential as a player.