The Tigers of Baton Rouge have been a factory for NFL Draft talent in recent years. In particular, the school has produced high-end players in the secondary that have gone on to become great professional contributors. Former LSU players such as Patrick Peterson, LaRon Landry, Tre’Davious White, Donte Jackson, and Jamal Adams have developed into productive players in the league. In fact, a few of them have even become elite. Speaking of elite talents, the player I profile this week happens to be trending in that direction. The most recent in the long line of defensive back talent is the hard-hitting Grant Delpit.
NFL Draft Player Profile: S Grant Delpit
Delpit burst onto the scene as a freshman, playing in all 13 games and racking up 60 total tackles and nine passes defended. He also had an interception, and it was clear early on that his ball skills were going to be top-notch. He was also one of the consensus top 100 players coming out of high school in the state of Florida. Delpit immediately showed the promise that fans were expecting in him as a big-time commitment.
LSU has done a great job recruiting in the state of Florida, as evidenced by their successful recruitment of Delpit and Patrick Peterson. Delpit spurned the big three in Florida to showcase his skills in the state of Louisiana. The highly touted freshman notched eight tackles apiece against Auburn and Notre Dame to close out the season. It was evident following his first season at LSU that Delpit was a player to watch for the NFL Draft, moving forward.
Entering Delpit’s sophomore season at LSU, he was a full-time starting safety with sizable expectations already. He started with seven tackles and a sack against Miami in the season opener. That hot start only continued to sizzle as he went on to notch five total sacks and lead the SEC with five interceptions for the Tigers in 2018. His 14 passes defended last season ranked him second in all of college football. He showed himself to be a true center-fielder at the safety position with some significant range and ball skills.
That playmaking ability, combined with his excellent tackling ability, make Delpit a fascinating and elite 2020 NFL Draft prospect. Delpit finished the year with 74 tackles and was named as a unanimous first-team All-American alongside teammates Devin White and Greedy Williams. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected White in the top 5 of the 2019 NFL Draft, and Delpit could easily follow suit as a top 5 pick.
There is a multitude of exciting defensive back prospects to watch as we inch closer to the 2019 college season. However, none compare to the ultra-talented and hard-hitting Delpit. The Houston and Florida native enters his junior season towards the top of every pundit’s position rankings and on almost every college award watch list imaginable. Those lists include the Chuck Bednarik, Jim Thorpe and Bronco Nagurski awards, to name a few. Perhaps the most significant achievement and honor of Delpit’s LSU career isn’t a trophy or ranking. Delpit will wear the famed number 7 jersey for the Tigers during the 2019 season.
The donning of this jersey is one of the highest honors that LSU will bestow upon one of their own. Many LSU greats of the past, such as Tyrann Mathieu, Leonard Fournette, and D.J. Chark, have worn the number 7, and that includes the originator of the tradition – Peterson, as mentioned earlier. The jersey number is given to the team’s top playmaker each season, and Delpit understands the importance of this tradition.
NFL Draft profile and expectations
When it comes to breaking down the top defensive back talents of the 2020 NFL Draft, Delpit has all the traits you look for in a complete safety prospect. According to Pro Football Focus, the LSU play-maker allowed only a 57.3 passer rating in coverage last season. Combine that with his 22 total stops, and he received an elite overall grade of 84.4. When breaking down film of Delpit, there are not a ton of weaknesses to his game.
Grant Delpit was an absolute playmaker at the safety position for LSU last season and he will look to do more of the same this year. pic.twitter.com/8iopidcpx0
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 9, 2019
The production matches everything you see on tape, and he certainly passes the eye test. His coverage skills are tremendous, and his instincts compare favorably to the top safeties in the past few NFL Draft classes. Had Delpit been available in the 2019 NFL Draft, I am confident that he would have been the first safety selected and a cinch first-rounder.
A natural player comparison to make with Delpit is Los Angeles Chargers’ sophomore safety, Derwin James. In college, James was moved all over the defense. He played in the box, the deep middle, and even lined up in the slot to match up with tight ends and receivers. However, one of the most intriguing skillsets that James possessed was his blitzing ability. He rushed the passer from the edge a considerable amount in college and continued to find success in the pros last season.
Delpit mirrors each of these qualities very well. He is comfortable lining up in the slot and at both safety positions. And the Tigers also like to split him out on the perimeter, where he can wreak havoc against quarterbacks and ball carriers. He does not use a ton of moves when blitzing but is decisive and explosive when he comes off the edge.
As mentioned, Delpit is one of the cleaner prospects available for the 2020 NFL Draft, and a top player in the SEC Conference. If I had to pick a weakness from watching his tape, it appears that he gets caught peeking into the backfield at times. There were times early on in his sophomore season where he would give up a play over the middle to a receiver while staring into the backfield.
Delpit is an extremely bright player and needs to trust his eyes and instincts. If he can do that, there should be way fewer missteps on play-fakes and misdirection plays. He is an aggressive player that makes explosive plays but will need to reign it in at times to become even more dependable in his junior year. Delpit is a reliable player on the back end and will only get better with experience.
I ranked Delpit as the number three overall player in the SEC this season, and that is likely where he will stay for the 2019-2020 season. This spot would also be my ranking for Delpit if I had included prospects outside of the SEC. To see our full NFL Draft safety rankings, please visit this link. It is clear that we favor Delpit in a safety class that looks weak at the top. However, this LSU leader is in a class of his own, and there is a chance that Delpit could move even higher up the rankings if he reaches the progression that I expect in his junior season.
When it comes to ranking NFL Draft prospects at the safety position since 2015, I would only currently rank him below the Jets’ Jamal Adams and Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick. That puts Delpit above the aforementioned James of Los Angeles, Malik Hooker (Indianapolis) and Johnathan Abram (Oakland). That is high praise for the LSU junior, but his talent is unique. He has the upside for a monster 2019 season in Baton Rouge. Keep a lookout for the gifted safety this season and watch how he progresses from talented college defensive back to elite NFL hopeful.