Colts re-signing Julian Blackmon provides added flexibility in NFL Draft

The Colts re-signing Julian Blackmon gives them some much-needed flexibility at the safety position going into the upcoming NFL Draft.

Safety was arguably the Colts biggest need before this move was made. On the roster before the team brought back Blackmon was Nick Cross, who played 292 defensive snaps in 2023 and Rodney Thomas, who played nearly 1,000 snaps.

Both spent the bulk of their snaps in the free safety role last season and presumably would compete for that starting spot this summer. Beyond Cross and Thomas was a lot of inexperience with Kendell Brooks, Marcel Dabo, Trevor Denbow, Daniel Scott, and Michael Tutsie, all of whom have combined for just seven career defensive snaps.

While Cross and Thomas were going to presumably compete for the deep safety role, there was no experienced box safety option on the roster, until the team re-signed Blackmon.

Had the Colts not addressed this need in free agency, it would have put them in a tough situation entering the draft. With how the roster was constructed, taking a safety somewhat early on felt like a near must.

The issue with that approach is that, for starters, this isn’t a very good safety draft class. As I wrote about recently, this position group received the second-lowest grade from PFF for its talent and depth.

At pick 15, there isn’t a safety that the Colts would spend that selection on. This would then put pressure on them to address the need in either Round 2 or Round 3 in hopes of landing some immediate help–something we don’t often see from this position group, not to mention that the further a team gets from the first overall pick, the more difficult finding that level of help becomes.

On top of that, as we have seen throughout the league over the years, when teams feel like they have to take a certain position at a specfic point in the draft, it leads to overdrafting, which can then result in misses and minimal impact.

What every NFL GM wants is options, and with Blackmon back on the team for the 2024 season, Ballard now has that at the safety position.

With some stability on the back end, taking a safety at pick 46 or pick 82 is no longer a must. Instead, Ballard can let the board come to him and address safety when the timing is right or he now has the freedom to tackle another need on Day 2 if that is how things play out.

Now, with that said, safety should still be a priority for the Colts in this draft. Blackmon is only signed to a one-year deal and a failure to add developmental talent this year will leave the Colts in a similar situation next offseason.

PFF has six safeties listed in its top 100 overall prospects. Below are those players and their prospect ranking:

26. Tyler Nubin, Minnesota

48. Javon Bullard, Georgia

61. Jaden Hicks, Washington State

87. Kamren Kinchens, Miami

97. Calen Bullock, USC

As I’ve pointed out previously, it’s worth noting that Nubin recorded a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 2.91 and Kinchens 1.83. The reason that this is of potential significance is because over the last two drafts, the average RAS of Ballard’s selections have been 9.55, which potentially reduces an already thin safety pool for the Colts.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire