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Colts’ Julian Blackmon rated number eight in USAToday Top 11 safety rankings

NFL: OCT 18 Bengals at Colts Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In an article written by Doug Farrar of USAToday, — linked here — he ranked his Top 11 safeties in the league currently. Colts’ safety Julian Blackmon was ranked number eight on that list, putting him just ahead of Vikings’ safety Harrison Smith.

Blackmon started 14 games for Indy after former starting safety Malik Hooker went down early on in the season. The rising star, who was coming off an ACL injury, made his presence known very early on.

During his 14 starts, Blackmon had two interceptions, both of which came in key situations for the Colts last season. His first came against the Chicago Bears, a game in which Indy’s defense held Nick Foles and Bears’ offense to just ten points. With Chicago driving and needing a stop, Blackmon picked off Foles, capping off an exceptional defensive performance.

Just a few weeks later, against the Cincinnati Bengals, Blackmon’s natural ball instincts would come to benefit the Colts’ defense yet again, as he closed out a 21-point comeback after intercepting rookie QB Joe Burrow during the Bengals’ last-ditch effort to make a comeback of their own.

His most important and clutch moment, in my opinion, came during the game against Green Bay. After trailing early on, Indianapolis and the Packers battled back and fourth until the game ended up being tied at 31-all. The Packers won the coin toss going into the overtime period, meaning the Colts’ defense, which had held one of the league’s most dominant offenses to just three second-half points, would have to come up clutch yet again.

A few plays later, just inside their own 20-yard line, Green Bay wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling fumbled the football after Blackmon came flying in on bubble screen and punched the ball out of his arms. DeForest Buckner recovered the fumble and the Colts went on to win that game 34-31, improving to 7-3 on the season.

That’s what makes Blackmon special — his ability to not just force turnovers for Indy’s defense, but come up clutch when it’s needed most. Now that he’s earned the starting role, I’d expect the star safety to have an even greater impact for the Colts’ defense this season.

Given the emergence of Blackmon and his fellow teammate Khari Willis, who also played a pivotal role for the defense last season, the Colts look to be in great hands with both star safeties flying around and making key plays for seasons to come.