After the 2020 NFL Draft progressed deeper than expeceted before the University of Utah saw one of its players drafted, the third round brought a surprise by way of the Indianapolis Colts on Friday night.
With the 21st pick of the third round and the 85th overall pick, the Colts selected defensive back Julian Blackmon, making the Layton High alumnus the highest-drafted of four Lancers to ever be selected in the draft.
Blackmon jumped well ahead of projections as the Colts gave him a sure boost of confidence.
Mock drafts placed his possible selection as high as the fourth round. Sports Illustrated rated him the No. 137 prospect, and NFL.com and CBS both projected Blackmon into the fifth round.
Instead, Indianapolis took him midway through the third round.
In 48 career games — 39 starts — Blackmon grabbed nine interceptions, returned two of them for touchdowns and totaled 158 tackles.
Utah switched Blackmon to safety in 2019 after he played the first three seasons at cornerback.
“We felt ... his best upside and his highest ceiling was going to be at the safety position, which you know obviously translates into meaning his best opportunity to be a professional,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said earlier this week. “Plus, it helped us out, it allowed us to get the best five guys on the field in the secondary, so that change from corner to safety I really believe put him on everybody’s radar.”
Blackmon was named an All-American by seven different media outlets in 2019 and was All-Pac-12 three years in a row.
At Layton High, Blackmon was a standout in both football and basketball. He played on the Lancers’ 2015 basketball state title team and was named the Standard-Examiner All-Area Boys Basketball MVP in 2016.
Blackmon was the second Ute taken. The Chicago Bears took cornerback Jaylon Johnson at No. 50 in the second round.
Immediately after Blackmon, the Buffalo Bills drafted Utah running back Zack Moss at No. 86 overall.
Patrick Carr contributed to this story.