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Colts’ Julian Blackmon named one of NFL’s 11 best safeties

Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire put together his list of the 11 best safeties ahead of the 2024 NFL season. Coming in at No. 10 was the Indianapolis ColtsJulian Blackmon.

Here is a snippet of what Farrar had to say about Blackmon:

“Blackmon can be deployed all over the field because he transitions so well between the slot, the box, and the deep third. And he can do all of that in the same play.”

At the top of Farrar’s list was Kyle Hamilton, followed by Antoine Winfield Jr., and Jabrill Peppers rounding out his top three.

Blackmon put together a career season in 2023, with the majority of his snaps coming from the box for the first time in his career. After playing just 173 total snaps from the box from 2020-2022, Blackmon played 468 there last season. He also spent 308 snaps as the free safety and 175 from the slot.

“It just fits my role better, it fits my personalty better,” Blackmon said of playing in the box via Colts.com. “I’m more of a talkative person, I like to be around the ball and I like the take the ball away, and so that strong safety position in this defense, specifically, is more of that role. For me, it was kind of easy to move over there and start making those plays.”

Blackmon was a very reliable tackler, making 88 of his 95 attempts, and ranked among the best at his position in PFF’s run-stop rate metric. In coverage, Blackmon had four interceptions, two pass breakups and held opponents to under 12.0 yards per catch. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 57.5 when targeting him.

“I think just consistency, man,” said Blackmon when asked what’s next for him. Trying to even ultimately grow more as much as I can. You never got it, that’s what coach always says, and I agree with that. So for me the next thing is just understanding what else I can do. What more can I do and where can I put myself in better situations to make even more plays.”

Blackmon was a free agent this offseason but made his way back to Indianapolis on a one-year deal worth $3.7 million.

Blackmon’s return provides some added stability at a position group that still has questions. The free safety role will be up for grabs this summer. Through OTAs and minicamp, Rodney Thomas and Nick Cross have been rotating with the starting defense.

Even with Blackmon’s high level of play last season, the Colts’ secondary as a whole gave up too many big plays and didn’t make enough plays on the football, ranking in the bottom third of the NFL in both yards per pass allowed and pass deflections.

However, the experience gained by the young cornerback and safety groups, coupled with the continuity from 2023 to 2024, will hopefully be catalysts towards improved play this season.

“Absolutely,” said Blackmon when asked if he could see the defense improving in 2024. “I think just having the same guys being back, we just have better chemistry. Also as well as having the same coaching staff. I think guys are understanding the defense a lot more, so it’s going to allow us to make a lot more plays.”

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire