Justin Blackmon and NFL Rookies with Biggest Question Marks
The Jacksonville Jaguars got a rude awakening this weekend when their first-round pick and presumptive No. 1 receiver Justin Blackmon was arrested for driving under the influence in Oklahoma. Blackmon now headlines a list of rookies with question marks hanging over their heads entering the 2012 season.
The following is a list of the rookies who will have to prove they can not only handle the NFL on the field, but the spotlight that will come off of it.
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
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Justin Blackmon was arrested this weekend for aggravated DUI in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It was the receiver's second DUI arrest and has raised a ton of red flags surrounding his character and decision-making.
Blackmon is expected to be a big part of what the Jacksonville Jaguars do offensively in 2012, but if he is unreliable off the field, there is no way the team can trust him on it. After a superb career at Oklahoma State, Blackmon was the No. 5 pick in the 2012 NFL draft and was expected to be Jacksonville's top receiver immediately.
The 22-year-old now has a lot to prove moving forward. He must show that not only is he reliable off the field, but that he knows what he did was wrong and prove that he won't do it again. One arrest for a DUI is serious; two is reckless.
If the Jaguars are going to give Blackmon their top receiving spot, he must prove that he's worthy of that honor both on and off the field.
Janoris Jenkins, St. Louis Rams
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Cornerback Janoris Jenkins is a big-time talent—there is no denying that. But his decisions off the field forced teams to pass on him during the 2012 NFL draft. Jenkins wound up landing with the St. Louis Rams at No. 39, but he was probably a top-15 pick based purely on talent.
Jenkins is one of the best pure cover corners to enter the NFL in some time. He just has an incredible, uncanny ability to stick to the man he is covering. That said, he also had an uncanny ability to get into trouble during his first collegiate stop at Florida.
He was involved in a fight at Florida in 2009. Then, in April of 2010, he was kicked off the football team after being arrested twice in three months on drug-related charges. Then in 2011, while at North Alabama, he was booted from the Delta State game for throwing a punch.
With so many character red flags, Jenkins is certainly a risk for the Rams. He will need to prove he can behave both on and off the field to earn the team's trust.
Quinton Coples, New York Jets
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Quinton Coples is 6'6" and 284 pounds of pure football-playing ability. The North Carolina product has ideal size, speed, quickness and power for a defensive end in the NFL. The only question mark is his desire.
Coples was far too talented to post the pedestrian numbers he did during his time at UNC. He was a man among boys, yet never dominated. By all accounts he seems like a good kid. I'm just not sure he knows how to find that extra gear that will make him more than just a talented guy.
The New York Jets obviously feel like they can unlock Coples' talent. They took him with the 16th pick in the first round of the draft and will expect him to play at a higher level. Head coach Rex Ryan won't accept anything less.
Coples must prove he was worth the selection and step up to another level in the NFL, or he could be a gigantic bust.
Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals
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Dre Kirkpatrick was considered an elite talent in the 2012 draft, but an arrest for marijuana possession put a damper on his draft stock. In addition to that, he had academic problems coming out of high school, though he seems to have righted the ship in that department quickly at Alabama.
The Cincinnati Bengals took Kirkpatrick with the 21st pick in this year's draft, and they will expect him to not only behave off the field, but also come to play on it. He was part of a phenomenal secondary in college, but his best attributes come in zone coverage and he will have to improve his man-to-man skills.
Kirkpatrick's arrest was a misdemeanor and shouldn't be a big deal moving forward, but the talented cornerback has to show better judgement. Now that he's in the NFL spotlight, he has to prove he's more mature and can handle everything that will go with his newfound fame.