Coverage Spacing - He's irregular on this front, mainly because he's only recently transitioned over to SAF from cornerback. Was abused vertically vs. USC and struggled with angles and anticipation, so expect some needed coaching and must take a leap forward here.
Acceleration - Think he's got requisite burst to play over the top in vertical responsibility but don't see the kind of needed range and quickness to serve as a single high safety and prowl in C1 as the deep defender. Long speed is good but not a game changing quality.
Tackling - Really like his finishing skills here. He's got a pretty good wingspan and grip strength to wrap, roll and finish tackles. Uses the sideline well and isn't passive when he's on an island as the last line of defense, will close distance quickly and reliably finish.
Zone Coverage Skills - Leave him in deep half for best results. Struggled to mirror eyes of quarterbacks with anticipation on film and was late working into position. Issues were expanded by some poor angles to receivers downfield, confidence timing arrival at catch point wasn't consistent.
Ball Skills - Showed good hand-eye coordination to reach to ball when it flashed late in his area. Overall anticipation and feel for tracking the ball as free defender is still (understandably) a work in progress but will need improvement for better angles.
Competitive Toughness - Really appreciate his physical demeanor on the field. Strong both attacking bodies at the catch point and also finishing as a tackler. Hustle is good and he'll fly up into the action when quick game or outside runs pop off. Does well to flash hands and discard blocks.
Flexibility - Don't see dynamic hinge and ability to throw open hips and attack targets on in peripheral range. Ability to transition in off coverage man to man and click/close isn't overly inspiring either, made the right move to work as more as free defender vs. locking man to man every down.
Feet/COD - Not overly fluid or dynamic in these situations. Transitional quickness is only modest and if he sags too far off receivers or is attacked with quick game he may struggle to work back to position to challenge the football and contest.
Man Coverage Skills - Experience as a former cornerback will serve him well here. He's not a viable option to step into boundary play but as a press nickel, he's physical, long and comfortable enough to disrupt route releases and ensure timing is off. Just don't play him in off coverage.
Versatility - Think there's enough here to really mold him into a 3-down defender at the next level. Strong tackling, man coverage experience and ceiling for improvement and safety indicate strong foundation to build upon with coaching.
Best Trait - Tackling
Worst Trait - Coverage Spacing
Best Film - BYU (2019)
Worst Film - USC (2019)
Red Flags - None
Player Summary - Julian Blackmon projects as a developmental starter in a defense that utilizes a lot of split safety coverage. Blackmon's plus tackling skills are best implemented from a Strong Safety role but he offers enough man to man ability as a former corner to stay on the field in sub-package situations as well. Blackmon will need patience as he continues to acclimate to playing deeper portions of the field and early play may bring some headaches as he irons out spacing inconsistencies.