Julian Blackmon could be one of a handful of Utah Utes football players picked in this week’s NFL Draft, including Jaylon Johnson, Terrell Burgess, Bradley Anae and Zack Moss.
And, if Blackmon is selected by an NFL team as many mock drafts project, he’d become the first Layton High alumnus drafted since 1983 — that’s 37 years — and fourth Lancer overall taken in the draft, according to Pro Football Reference.
In the 1983 NFL Draft, Layton High alumni Chuck Ehin (defensive line and linebacker, BYU) and Maurice Turner (running back, Utah State) were both selected in the 12th round.
Ehin played five seasons for the San Diego Chargers from 1983-87 and started 43 games. From 1984-87, Turner played a total of 27 games with the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets.
In 1977, Layton High and Weber State alumnus Rod Bockwoldt was drafted in the eighth round by the Los Angeles Rams.
There’s another Layton alumnus to have played in the NFL: wide receiver Marcus Kemp (Hawai’i), who was signed by Kansas City as an undrafted free agent in 2017.
If Blackmon is drafted, he’d automatically be the highest-drafted Layton alumnus in school history, since the current draft goes seven rounds.
Multiple mock drafts and projections indicate Blackmon will be picked in this week’s NFL Draft, which begins Thursday and goes through Saturday.
The draft’s first round is Thursday, the second and third rounds are Friday, and the remaining four rounds are Saturday.
Blackmon is coming off a torn ACL in his knee that he suffered in last season’s Pac-12 Championship game against Oregon, but he’s showing up in plenty of mock drafts and media projections as draft anticipation ramps up.
Speaking on a virtual conference call Tuesday morning, Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham said the team that selects Blackmon will be very pleased.
“I think he can bring a ton to an NFL team. He’s an exceptional athlete, he’s one of the best athletes on our football team,” Whittingham said.
USA Today projects Blackmon as a Day 3 draft pick, which encompasses rounds four through seven. Sporting News projects Blackmon as a fourth-round picking going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Sports Illustrated ranks Blackmon as the No. 137 draft prospect among this year’s draft class, which would ostensibly place Blackmon as a fourth-round pick.
NFL.com and CBS Sports project Blackmon as a fifth-rounder, with CBS’ mock draft slotting Blackmon with the Dallas Cowboys.
“The only thing he’s got going against him is that knee injury he suffered in the championship game, but if someone takes a chance on him they’re going to be very pleasantly surprised — not surprised, but rewarded for taking that chance. His rehab is coming along great,” Whittingham said.
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.
“He came to us and we put him at corner right away, he played there the first three years. 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,” Whittingham said. “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. According to his Utah football biography, he graduated with a sociology degree in December 2019.
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 broke his wrist his senior year of high school and missed the first 10 games of basketball season, then came back and Layton went 13-2 with him the lineup, going to the state semifinals.
Multiple recent attempts to reach Blackmon for comment on his draft status and preparation were not successful. Then, on April 18, Blackmon posted a message on Twitter that indicated he’s not doing interviews at this time.
“If you’ve asked me to do a story my reason for not doing them is simple! Not to be rude, but I don’t need my story told to the world. I’m here to play football. If those things come while I make history so be it. But I don’t need someone else to narrate who I am. I got that,” Blackmon wrote.
NFL teams have different salary cap situations, different positional needs and likely feel differently about Blackmon’s injury and rehab status, so it’s unknown how closely the mock drafts and projections line up with NFL teams’ thinking.
However, consensus appears to be that Blackmon will get the phone call this week that every draft prospect dreams about.