According to Pro Football Focus, Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon is currently its highest graded rookie safety through the first six weeks of the season:
Julian Blackmon:— PFF IND Colts (@PFF_Colts) October 19, 2020
highest-graded rookie safety
10th highest-graded safety of 83 qualifiers pic.twitter.com/7AcpPed4oU
This year’s 2020 3rd round pick out of Utah has been a godsend in the backend of the Colts secondary—especially having lost starter Malik Hooker to a season-ending Achilles injury.
Perhaps most impressive is that Blackmon missed a large portion of the team’s physical training camp practices (or at least was limited to work on the side or rehabilitation), as he’s less than a year removed from a late season-ending torn ACL injury suffered in December of 2019.
The 6’1”, 204 pound defensive back had experience playing as both an All-Pac 12 Conference standout cornerback and safety for the Utes respecitvely—and it shows on the field in Indianapolis, as he’s a bonafide ballhawk—flashing tremendous defensive versatility and ball skills. Blackmon has 2 interceptions and 6 passes defensed already on the 2020 campaign in 5 games (4 starts):
JULIAN BLACKMON CALLED GAME!!— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 18, 2020
FOX | #CINvsIND pic.twitter.com/7Vsx5flQ3r
Check out former @Utah_Football star Julian Blackmon @JumpManJu32 tipping the ball to Khari Willis for an interception in the Colts victory over Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/sHKxalUDfh— Dana Greene (@dana_greene) September 20, 2020
Per PFF, Blackmon is their 9th highest graded NFL safety with a +74.1 grade overall right now. He played in 100% of the total defensive snaps in Sunday’s comeback win against the Cincinnati Bengals, showing he’s no longer on a ‘pitch count’ as a recovery precaution.
Along with 2nd-year pro Khari Willis, the Colts have a very promising safety tandem, and Blackmon figures to be a dynamic playmaker for plenty of years to come in the back of their secondary—as this might be the best young safety duo the Colts have had since Bob Sanders and Antoine Bethea once notoriously donned Horsehoe Blue.