In a critical contract year, Julian Blackmon has proven his value to the Colts

Safety Julian Blackmon is playing on the final year of his rookie contract, but his performance this season has proven his value to the Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots
Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Amidst a year of ups and downs, safety Julian Blackmon has solidified himself as a building block of the Indianapolis Colts defense moving forward. A leader of the defensive backfield, Blackmon has remained as reliable as can be. He has started in every game this season and after some contemplation of the current Colts safety room, the decision was made that Julian Blackmon would be sliding over from free safety to strong safety.

This change has proved to be a fruitful one for Blackmon and company. Although the free safety spot is typically known as the coverage role whereas the strong safety position is reserved for the more tackling-oriented of the two, Blackmon has found success in the move.

The fourth-year Utah product is currently the NFL's eighth-best tackler from the safety position via Pro Football Focus. Blackmon is third leaguewide in stops and has the seventh-best missed tackle percentage among all safeties.

In the air, Blackmon has provided two pass breakups on top of his three interceptions, which is tied for fourth among safeties leaguewide. He also posts the ninth-best passer rating against among qualifying safeties.

Julian Blackmon, in a contract year, has given Chris Ballard and Co. reason on a weekly basis to re-sign him. Amidst a youthfully inexperiened defensive backfield, Blackmon has shown that he is a reliable, verstaile piece to this defense. In 2022, while there was chaos in abundance, Blackmon moved to nickel corner in wake of Kenny Moore II's season-ending injury and he more than proved himself to be a viable option at said spot.

Blackmon's position change in 2023 may have been more schematic than anything, though he has exceeded expectations thus far. He has seen no drop off from his play in coverage and has truly cemented himself as a contract extension candidate because of it.