Draft Prospect Profile | S Julian Blackmon, Utah
Julian Blackmon, Safety
Height: 6-foot 1
Weight: 204 lbs
Julian Blackmon is a safety who played collegiately at Utah. Born and raised in Layton Utah, he attended Layton High School, where he played football and basketball. Blackmon was a duel threat in high school, as he played wide receiver and cornerback.
He only had offers from four schools, three of them being in his home state. Blackmon ultimately chose Utah, verbally committing to the school in July of 2015.
During his freshman season in 2016, Blackmon was mainly used as a special teams player. He did appear in four games on defense, where he recorded two total tackles.
Blackmon made a massive leap in 2017, as he started in all 13 games at cornerback for Utah and had 48 total tackles, four interceptions (team-high) and ten passes defended (also team-high).
He had two total tackles and two interceptions in Utah’s 30-14 win over West Virginia in the 2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl and was named MVP of the game. Following this breakout sophomore year, Blackmon was named to the Second-Team All-Pac 12.
Blackmon started in all 14 games during his junior season, recording 48 total tackles, one interception (a pick-six), and 10 passes defended. He had four total tackles in the 2018 Holiday Bowl, as Utah fell to Northwestern 31-20. He was also named to the Second-Team All-Pac 12 for the second straight year.
Following the 2018 season, Blackmon was converted from cornerback to safety. He started in 12 games at free safety during his senior season and had 60 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, four passes defended, two forced fumbles, and four interceptions (including a pick-six). Blackmon missed the 2020 Alamo Bowl due to an injury, but he was named a Second-Team All-American by the Associated Press for 2019.
After mainly playing cornerback in high school and during his first three years at Utah, Blackmon seamlessly made the transition to safety. He has the size to be a free safety in the NFL. Blackmon’s versatility, quickness, and coverage skills make him an intriguing mid-round defensive back option in the draft.
Why He’s a Fit
The Giants have recently been going through a transition in their secondary, as general manager, Dave Gettleman has made it a priority to rebuild this area of the defense.
Within the past four months, the team released Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins and declined the option year on veteran free safety Antoine Bethea's contract.
Gettleman has brought in younger players to be a part of the Giants’ secondary, including Jabrill Peppers, Deandre Baker, Julian Love, Sam Beal, and Corey Ballentine.
Gettleman should use the draft to continue to improve the Giants’ secondary. Specifically, he should be focused on selecting a free safety. With the release of Bethea, the Giants are now in need of a starting free safety.
Right now, Julian Love is the leading candidate on the roster to start at this position. A former slot cornerback at Notre Dame, he filled in for Peppers at strong safety toward the end of last season.
Although Love played well after making the transition to safety, it is unclear if he is ready to be a full-time starter at that position.
Many draft projections right now have the Giants focusing on offensive tackle, linebacker and edge rusher during the first few rounds. Don't be surprised if Gettleman looks for a free safety during Day 3 of the draft.
Blackmon is someone that Gettleman could end up snagging as late as the fourth round. He would be a solid addition to the Giants’ secondary.
During his four-year career at Utah, he had nine interceptions and two forced fumbles. The Giants’ defense only had ten interceptions and nine forced fumbles during the 2019 season. Their inability to create turnovers was one of the reasons why this defense was among the worst in the league last year.
Blackmon is someone who can make big plays and create turnovers, which is one of the main reasons why he could have an immediate impact on the Giants’ defense.
Because he did not address this position in free agency, Gettleman will need to take a safety at some point during the draft.
Blackmon’s physicality and coverage ability should help have a smooth transition from college to the NFL. Although he only has one year of experience at safety, he has proven that he can play the position at a high level. Blackmon would be a solid mid-round choice for the Giants.