Colts Scouting: Matt Terpening Offers Insights on Julian Blackmon

Phillip B. Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS — The fact that the Indianapolis Colts drafted Utah safety Julian Blackmon despite the defender suffering a knee injury that required surgery shows how much the team was sold on his ability.

Blackmon, who switched from cornerback to safety as a senior, could have declared for the NFL draft after his junior season. But he stayed in school and made the position transition, which was to his benefit, according to Colts assistant director of college scouting Matt Terpening.

The Colts selected Blackmon in the third round, 85th overall.

“He decided to stay in school, which was the right move for him, and they moved him to safety and he had a lights-out senior season,” Terpening said. “He really jumps off the tape. He’s got versatility, he’s got speed, and he can cover.

“The NFL is about trends and I think the trend in the NFL is you’ve got to get defensive players who can man cover and turn the ball over. He’s a three-down player. He can play the run. He can play the pass. He can match up with different wideouts. And he can play in the post. That’s what drew us to him.”

Blackmon was named a first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated and The Athletic. He finished his college career with 39 starts in 48 games with 158 tackles, nine interceptions, 1.5 sacks, and two touchdowns.

The Colts assured Blackmon not to worry about his knee injury, just focus on his rehab and everything would take care of itself. Some draft analysts thought the Colts reached to draft him in the third round, but the thought was Blackmon wouldn’t stay on the board much longer.

“The injury, I think (head) coach (Frank Reich) and (GM) Chris (Ballard) felt it was the right time to take him because he probably wasn’t going to be there very long,” Terpening said.

Ballard has said he doesn’t expect Blackmon to get back on a field until September or October, depending upon that rehab. When he’s able to play,, Blackmon is expected to back up Malik Hooker and Khari Willis.

Blackmon said he actually asked to make the switch from cornerback to safety before his senior season. He saw a roster with decent cornerbacks and thought he could best help the team at safety.

“I felt like the transition wasn’t too hard for me,” Blackmon said. “I feel like playing safety was one of my better fits. … I wanted to move to safety and it ended up being something that was not too hard to transition to. I just understood it very quickly.”

(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is phillipbwilson24@yahoo.com.)

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