Defensive Rookie Of The Year Sleeper: Colts Safety Julian Blackmon

We all know about Chase Young and Patrick Queen and Antoine Winfield. But there’s another defensive rookie who has been lights out and the general public rarely talks about him.

Colts rookie safety Julian Blackmon has been brilliant so far this season. The third-round rookie out of Utah has gotten more playing time since Malik Hooker tore his Achilles in Week 2 and he has taken advantage. 

Per PFF, Blackmon is their 9th highest graded NFL safety with a +74.1 grade overall. His aggression and nose for the ball has been evident. He has six pass deflections (fourth among all defensive backs) and two interceptions in five games and has shown sound tackling in the open field. Those numbers come despite the fact he didn’t play in Week 1.

He came up clutch on Sunday, intercepting Joe Burrow in the final minute, clinching a 31-27 victory.

What makes Blackmon’s play even more impressive is that he’s less than a year removed from a late season-ending torn ACL injury suffered in December of 2019 and he was limited for most of camp.

The Colts hope to have All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard back after their bye week. When he does return, the Colts will roll out three game changers on each level of their defense with DeForest Buckner, Leonard and Blackmon. Buckner had high praise for Blackmon after Sunday’s game:

“Week in and week out, he’s making plays in practice and it transfers over in to games. You gain so much trust in a guy like him,” Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said of Blackmon. “He’s only a rookie, and he’s out there making a difference. He’s a playmaker, and guys feed off that energy.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard has struck gold a number of times in the Draft since he was hired in 2017. Blackmon has looked like a homerun so far.

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