Many fanbases, including that of the Cleveland Browns, were hoping that LSU safety Grant Delpit would fall to their team in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but few actually expected that to happen. When the Browns were on the clock at pick 41 however, Delpit was on the board. Cleveland actually managed to trade back three spots with the Indianapolis Colts, picked up a fifth-round pick, and still nabbed Delpit at 44 overall. He is far from a perfect prospect, but there is no way he was just the 44th-best player in the class, and he is everything the Browns needed to add to their secondary.
Why Grant Delpit Was a Steal for the Cleveland Browns
Delpit won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2019 as the nation’s best defensive back, even if he maybe didn’t deserve the recognition. His 2018 campaign was sensational, and there’s a strong argument to be made that he should have won the award over Deandre Baker. Delpit’s 2019 season was marred by shoulder and ankle injuries, and he didn’t have as much of an impact as he did the year before. That’s not to say he was bad, far from it; that says more about how good his 2018 was.
At 6’3″ and 203 pounds, Delpit has the height and length to match up with tight ends, along with the speed and fluidity to cover receivers. He did a little bit of everything in college, playing single-high, in the box, in the slot, over tight ends, and blitzing both up the middle and around the edge. He excelled in all of those roles and presents a tantalizing versatile skillset.
Delpit’s biggest weakness is his poor tackling. In 2018, he missed nearly 20 percent of his attempts. In 2019, that number rose to over 25 percent. There’s no excusing his performance in this area, and it can’t be blamed on simply the high ankle sprain he dealt with last season. That said, what is encouraging is that Delpit’s issue is not a lack of effort. He puts himself in a position to make plenty of tackles, but too often he will overrun plays, take poor angles, break down poorly, lunge, or fail to wrap up, leading to him bouncing off of ball-carriers.
It’s difficult to see Delpit ever becoming a good run defender, but even if that never happens, his ability in coverage far outweighs his shortcomings against the run. Delpit has matched up with a variety of high-level players in man coverage and found success. His play recognition and anticipation in zone are very good. And as a free safety, he displays fantastic sideline-to-sideline range.
Delpit was a second-round pick because of concerns over his tackling. But while those concerns are valid, they should not have been enough to drop him to the second round, when he is a legitimate top-15 talent. His skill set is nearly perfect for today’s NFL, and the Browns should reap the rewards from their theft for a long time.