When quarterback Blake Bortles does become Jacksonville's starter, he could have quite the supporting cast.
The Jaguars selected receivers Marqise Lee from USC and Allen Robinson from Penn State in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night. The additions likely signal the end of Justin Blackmon's career in Jacksonville.
They also traded up and drafted Miami guard Brandon Linder in the third round, the latest move in the rebuilding of the team's offensive line. Jacksonville gave New England a fourth-round pick (No. 105 overall) and a sixth-rounder (No. 179) to take Linder with the 93rd selection.
But the bigger news was Blackmon.
General manager Dave Caldwell indicated the team will consider parting ways with Blackmon if and when he gets reinstated. Blackmon is suspended indefinitely for repeated violations of the league's substance-abuse policy.
"I think we've kind of moved on for this year," said Caldwell, who said last week he doesn't expect Blackmon to play in 2014.
The Jaguars can't cut Blackmon at the moment under NFL rules, and when asked if they could part ways when he gets reinstated, Caldwell added: "If that happens."
With Blackmon's future uncertain, the Jaguars wasted little time selecting Lee with the 39th overall pick.
The Jaguars explored trading up as many as six spots to grab Lee in the second round, but when no receivers went off the board in the first few picks, Caldwell and Bradley decided to stay put and take their chances. And Lee was available at No. 39.
"We had our fingers crossed, but it all worked out," Bradley said. "It obviously helps us. It bring athleticism, it brings playmaking ability to our offense. ... He'll be an exciting player."
Lee got an endorsement from Jaguars assistant linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton, who coached linebackers at USC in 2012. Hazelton told coaches and scouts that Lee had "absolutely no red flags."
That made the decision an easy one, especially with the Jaguars trying to upgrade one of the NFL's worst offenses.
"This is a guy that obviously we had him highly rated. I think the whole country did," Caldwell said. "But for whatever reason — this is a deep draft — and sometimes players fall. The guy's a playmaker. When he gets the ball in his hands, he's electric.
"This is a good draft with good players. Somebody's got to fall, right? And it just so happened that it was a need for us."
A huge need given Blackmon's suspension. And a potential big-time target for Bortles, the third overall pick in the first round who will be groomed for the starting role behind Chad Henne.
The 6-foot, 192-pound Lee caught 248 passes for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns in three years with the Trojans. He caught 57 passes for 791 yards and four scores last year despite playing through a knee injury.
"He's explosive. He can make defenders miss," Caldwell said. "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 Jaguars have had little luck drafting receivers in early rounds, beginning with R. Jay Soward in 2000 and continuing with Reggie Williams (2004), Matt Jones (2005) and Blackmon (2012). All four spent time in the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
The new regime believes things will be different with Lee and Robinson.
The Jaguars spent part of the day decided who to draft between the two. They settled on Lee, and then had a chance to get both.
When Robinson was still available late in the second round, the Jaguars traded up nine spots to get him. They gave San Francisco a third-round pick (No. 70 overall) and a fifth-rounder (No. 150) to choose Robinson with the 61st selection.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Robinson caught 177 passes for 2,474 yards and 17 touchdowns in three years at Penn State. He had 97 receptions for 1,432 yards and six scores last year.
"The addition of these two guys makes a statement that we're trying to get better now," Bradley said.
And they're moving on without Blackmon.
"There are some unknowns there," Bradley said. "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 and it doesn't sound like it's going in the right direction. Just like Dave said: We can't count on him."
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