INDIANAPOLIS – Let’s take a breath and remind ourselves that Julian Blackmon is just 10 months removed from tearing his ACL and playing only his second ever season at the safety position.
As if we needed another reason to say ‘wow’ about the Colts rookie safety.
Blackmon found the ball quite often again on Sunday, making just his second NFL start, yet giving the Colts production that Malik Hooker never provided at this rate.
“Very excited about Julian’s progress physically, mentally, in every way in our scheme, just the way he is in the huddle, his presence,” Frank Reich said after another stifling defensive performance as the Colts beat the Bears 19-11. “You feel the confidence from him, he’s making plays, he’s playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of conviction right now and I just think that it will keep getting better. It really adds a lot to our defense.”
In the win over the Bears, Blackmon finished with 3 passes defensed, capping things with a fourth-quarter interception, which he more than deserved after seeking out the ball for two earlier breakups.
When the Colts drafted Blackmon No. 85 overall back in April, Matt Eberflus gushed over the Utah product’s ability to be around the football and take it away.
That comes from Blackmon’s collegiate background of playing cornerback for two seasons, and then transitioning to safety in 2019, where he had an All-American campaign before tearing his ACL in the Pac-12 Championship.
How active has Blackmon been in his 2.5 game NFL career?
Well, he has 5 passes defensed in 137 career snaps.
For comparisons sake, Hooker had 3 passes defensed in 788 snaps last season.
Whether it’s a jarring hit, being in the proper position for a deflection, or hauling in an interception off a drop as the last line of defense, Blackmon is giving the Colts needed playmaking from that free safety spot.
“Obviously Julian’s a special talent to be able to find the ball the way he does and make big hits and everything like that, he’s a special player,” linebacker Anthony Walker said following Sunday’s win. “Again, he’s young, but we’re excited to have him, we appreciate him and all that he brings to the table.”
When Hooker tore his Achilles in Week Two, the Colts could no longer approach Blackmon with kid gloves as the rookie was making his NFL debut in that same game.
Safety depth was getting tested.
But Blackmon is making many forget about any worries in that department.