INDIANAPOLIS — Chris McGaha, an area scout for the Indianapolis Colts who focuses on the West Coast, as well as Matt Terpening, the Colts' assistant director of college scouting, discuss what they saw in safety Julian Blackmon, the Colts' third-round (85th-overall) pick in this year's NFL Draft (excerpts from interviews done with local media members, as well as with Colts.com):
In the board-building process, what was your argument for Blackmon?
McGaha: "Yeah. Julian … he's a rangy, athletic, free safety who's played corner. So, he's got a lot of versatility to him and he played corner for two years, he was successful doing it. He was the MVP of the bowl game two years ago, playing corner. And then Utah had two safeties last year that graduated so they needed help with safety. So, he actually asked the coaching staff (if) he could move to safety. They said, 'Sure, why not? We'll try you out there.' I think he kind of took off in spring and fall camp. They liked what they saw at safety. So, we were excited about the fact that he's an athletic guy, he can play nickel, he can play corner if we got in a pinch, you can roll him down, he's a physical, he's a really good tackler and he's a physical kid. So, you can roll them down, you can kind of screw him down and play him close to the line of scrimmage or you can play him in the post and let him be that rangy, athletic guy and go take the ball away. He's got nine picks in his career. When it came to selling him, I was really trying to accentuate just how athletic he is. He played a lot of sports in high school — baseball, basketball, football, he ran track. He was a point guard in high school. They won a state championship with him playing point guard. He has an older brother that played basketball in college too so he's got a lot of athletic traits, I think, that you see on the football field. The ball skills and just the change of direction, the feed and the balance. So, I really just tried to highlight how athletic he was."
With Blackmon, what got you guys so excited, even with the knee injury, to take him where you did and have him that high on the board?
Terpening: "So, Julian is really unique. So as a junior last year, he actually thought about coming out, he played corner, and he decided to stay in school, which was the right move for him. And they moved him to safety. And he just had a lights-out season, lights-out senior season. He really jumps off tape. He's got versatility. He's got speed. And he can cover. And I think the NFL is about trends. And I think the trend in the NFL is you got to get defensive players that can main cover and that can turn the ball over. And he's a three-down player. So he can play the run. He can play the pass. He can match up against different wideouts and he can play in the post. And I think that's what drew us to the player. And the injury, I think Coach and Chris felt it was the right time to take him because he probably wasn't going to be there very long."
So the injury wasn't a big red flag for you?
Terpening: "I think most guys that are seniors and they get injured in basically their conference championship game, I mean, that's a tough blow because they're basically two games away from being done with their college career and he faces an injury like that. But when we've talked to him, I mean, the kid's always upbeat, positive. He always has a smile on his face so once our doctors got a chance to look at him, we felt comfortable taking them and we're excited to get him."