INDIANAPOLIS – It was written on his playbook even when that NFL debut didn’t have a crystal-clear date in mind.
With Malik Hooker and Khari Willis returning in 2020, even a healthy Julian Blackmon was more likely to be used in reserve duty as a rookie.
But the Utah safety had other ideas as he rehabbed his torn ACL.
“I sat down and literally wrote ‘Defensive Rookie of the Year’ all over my playbook because that’s what I want,” Blackmon now says.
“I truly believe that’s a talent that I have that I can help bring to this team. It’s definitely been on my radar.”
Honestly, it needs to be on the NFL’s radar.
Less than 12 months removed from tearing his ACL, not only is Julian Blackmon playing in the NFL, but he’s logging every snap and continuing to make game-changing plays at every level of the defense.
The latest for Blackmon was a textbook split of a double-team block on Sunday in overtime, putting himself in position for a tackle for loss. But Blackmon’s knack for finding the football was why the Colts coveted him in the third round of the draft back in April, and the rookie found it in a strip of Packers wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling to help the Colts complete their comeback victory.
“It’s a real difficult ask, but Julian is explosive and he does have that knack and he is fearless,” Frank Reich said after Blackmon added another highlight to his Defensive Rookie of the Year resume. “He continues to make those kind of plays. He’s consistent, but he also has that play-making ability.”
While some will point to Dallas CB-Trevon Diggs (2 interceptions 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 10 passes defensed before he injured his foot) or Washington DE-Chase Young (3.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss) as DROY candidates, take a look at those team’s records.
Blackmon is doing this on one of the best defenses in the NFL, and a team that is currently leading its division at 7-3.
Julian Blackmon Rankings Among Rookies:
-6 passes defensed (tied for 3rd)
-2 interceptions (tied for 1st)
-2 tackles for loss (tied for 8th)
-1 forced fumble (tied for 1st)
Julian Blackmon Rankings Among all NFL Defensive Backs:
-6 passes defensed (33rd)
-2 interceptions (16th )
-2 tackles for loss (tied for 34th)
-1 forced fumble (14th)
Remember, Blackmon didn’t make his NFL debut until Week Two and didn’t become a full-time starter until Week 3.
Now, he’s putting himself not only in the conversation for DROY, but deserves All-Pro and/or Pro Bowl consideration.
“We got to start talking about him for Defensive Rookie of the Year,” a vocal Darius Leonard—the 2018 DROY winner—said of Blackmon after Sunday’s win. “There’s nobody doing what he’s doing.
“Every time we’re in a big game he’s making big plays. He’s playing like he’s not a rookie….Everyone in the NFL needs to give him credit. He’s one bad joker, man.”