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2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU

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How far will Delpit’s tackling woes push him down the board?

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Giants have been missing a true center-fielder for a very long time. Darian Thompson was drafted by Jerry Reese out of Boise State in 2016, to no effective avail. Since then, most the safeties that the Giants had would adequate at best filling the single high role. Currently on the roster, Jabrill Peppers plays the strong safety, who operates around the box, and is a very good ally defender. Julian Love’s official role is still undefined; he could either be a versatile 2nd level defender for the Giants or maybe the team thinks he can be groomed into a single high safety. Nevertheless, Love’s ability to play over the slot is very effective and must be utilized, if Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, or Dravon Askew-Henry struggle in that role. Patrick Graham likes to run a lot of middle of the field closed type of defenses (cover 1, cover 3), so a rangy safety is definitely a valuable asset in his system.

Delpit fits the single high role due to his quick acceleration, range, and exceptional athletic ability. When he sets his eye on where the ball is going, he smoothly bursts to the catch point and brings a level of physicality that is welcomed. After his 2018 season, Delpit was a projected top 10 pick, but his tackling was truly, and I mean truly, abysmal in 2019. Had to be one of the more affected top 10 prospects, due to performance, from the start till the end of the 2019 season. Every time I’d see a poor tackling attempt on LSU’s tape, I thought “has to be #7” and I was usually right. That was very frustrating to watch, but there’s a caveat; some suggest Delpit’s shoulder, that was broken in 2018, was giving him problems in the 2019 season. Furthermore, Delpit dealt with a nasty ankle injury that he played through in 2019, so there were injury concerns, but it was hard to overlook the poor tackling mechanics that are so evident on his tape.

Prospect: Grant Delpit (Safety, LSU)
Games Watched: at Alabama (2019), at Vanderbilt (2019), at Mississippi State (2019), at Clemson (2020)
Red Flags: Broken Clavicle (2018), Slight ankle sprain (2019)

Measurables

Stats

Games Played (starts): 40 (37)

Tackles: 199
Tackles For a loss: 17.5
Sacks: 7
Interceptions: 8
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes Defensed: 24

2019 Stats

Games Played (starts): 14 (14)
Tackles: 65
Tackles For a loss: 4.5
Sacks: 2
Interceptions: 2
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 7

Quick Summary

Best: Physicality, Closing Burst, Acceleration, Reacting on Underneath Routes
Worst: Tackling Mechanics, Open Field Tackling
Projection: Starting free safety year one, who needs some fundamental coaching on tackling.

Game Tape

From “Hash” on Youtube

Full Report

Long lean frame, with good weight at 6’3, 213 pounds. Possesses good athletic ability that is highlighted by his exceptional acceleration, closing burst, straight line speed, and fluid hips. Has incredible foot speed to chew up ground, which assists him in recovering when beat, or if he takes a less than ideal angle to the football/catchpoint. Ability to move laterally on a dime is impressive. Delpit’s ability to stick his foot in the ground and come down hill with reckless abandon is impressive, and he brings an interesting amount of physicality upon contact. Would fly down to the edge of outside running plays and blow them up using his athletic traits, burst, and instincts.

Very good range and ability to cover ground quickly. Shows good hips and ability to explode in one direction, once he commits. Overall burst/acceleration really allows him to cover ground quickly. Very good coming downhill on underneath routes, while bringing an impressive level of physicality. Good ball skills and seems to have a knack for disrupting the catch point and getting his hands dirty. Good job locating the ball in the air, tracking the ball to the catch point and then adjusting his body to maximize disruption. Excellent in zone coverage and sees the field very well, while taking solid angles to the football when he has to cover a lot of ground. Does a solid job in man coverage; has the athletic ability and traits to stay in phase, when asked to do so in the slot. Enough hip fluidity, foot speed, and quick reaction to be competent with faster receivers in the slot while playing man. High football IQ, processes the game well, and very good competitive toughness assists him in all the aspects of playing football. From a coverage perspective, he can do just about everything for a team. Times up blitzes very well and is a good disruptive piece of the defense coming from the secondary.

Tackling woes are so concerning and frustrating. Rarely comes to balance before tackling. Delpit just lunges wildly at ball carriers and his aiming points are abysmal. His tackling issues are coming downhill, in open spaces, while moving laterally, and I don’t feel it’s cause he’s afraid of contact. Delpit delivers impressive blows to offensive players when he’s squared up. He’s just rarely squared up with a ball carrier. Must do a better job coming to balance, not lunging, wrapping up and driving through opponents. Ability to change direction in tight quarters while tackling seems hindered. Misconception that he was a much better tackler in 2018 is somewhat false; while he was worse in 2019, there was evidence that he struggled with tackling in 2018 as well. The run support aspect of Delpit has to be weighed heavily and there are outside variables to consider (injury), but it was truly bad in 2019.

Overall Grade: 6.7 - Talented prospect with above average physical and positional traits in almost all areas (except tackling). He’s a likely rookie starter with expectations of becoming a good NFL starter, who ranks in the top 10 of his position. [Grading Scale]

Projection

Delpit can start year one and has the upside to be a Pro Bowler by year three, if he can clean up all the technical flaws. The Giants could use a player like Delpit, but I would be tearing my hair out if he didn’t clean up the tackling. Usually, players that struggle with tackling in college tend to struggle with tackling in the NFL, unless those injuries really did significantly hinder his ability to come to balance.

Adding Delpit to an NFL squad can give a defense a lot of flexibility. Has the range to be a single high safety in cover 1 man. Easily possesses the range to play cover 2 or cover 3 safety, while also having experience and the physical nature to drop into the box. Can be trusted as the deep half safety in cover 6: quarter, quarter, half defenses. Instincts and ability to see the field are an underrated part of Delpit’s game; could occasionally thrive in a robber role. Can play man coverage effectively and uses his long/physical frame to disrupt receivers up the stem and throughout the catch point. Was used near the line of scrimmage a lot as a blitzer and became a nuisance for offenses when they would try to run laterally towards his side. If Delpit cleans up his tackling deficiencies, someone will get a steal if he’s available in the second round.