Will Blackmon is making the switch from cornerback, where he has played for his entire nine-year NFL career, to safety.
The change involves more than moving back several yards or more and moving to the center of the field. Blackmon says it’s going well because he has to slow down how he plays.
“It’s been pretty good,” he said. “Frustrating at first because you want to be able to make plays right off the bat and make something happen. But this is a process and I think for me it was more of you really have to slow down.”
It means more reading and less reacting. At cornerback, your basic responsibility was right in front of you, the receiver you are covering. At safety the assignments are more varied and spread all over the field.
“Here, I see everything, I communicate to the defensive backs, I have to communicate to the safety, I have to make sure I’m on my marks, know my run fits,” he said. “So there’s a lot of mental stuff.”
He thinks that things are coming along fairly well.
“I think that process-wise I’m getting much better now so I’m actually happy with where I am,” he said.
Blackmon will continue to spend the offseason program learning the safety position. In training camp he will earn his spot on the depth chart. For right now, DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton are the starters but both Jay Gruden and Joe Barry have emphasized that the safety depth chart is written in pencil, not with a Sharpie.
Blackmon will have to contend with the two current starters plus Duke Ihenacho, Deshazor Everett (another corner to safety convert), and possibly rookie Su’a Cravens for playing time. One possible scenario is that Blackmon will not really have a role when the season starts but as the season goes on and some injuries pile up he will work his way into a key role. He probably won’t start 10 games like he did last year but he will contribute.