The Cleveland Browns learned of their 2020 NFL schedule on Thursday. It is yet another step towards the season. But, before we get there, let’s go back to the NFL Draft. In the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Browns drafted safety Grant Delpit of LSU. Delpit was highly productive in his three seasons at LSU. In 2019, he had 65 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, seven passes defended and two interceptions in 14 games. His season earned him the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the best defensive back in college football. So, what are the Browns getting in Delpit? In today’s film room, I will look at the strengths and weaknesses of Grant Delpit.
2020 Browns’ NFL Draft Film Room Series: OT Jedrick Wills
This may be the most important strength in his game. Delpit was utilized all over the defense in a variety of roles. He was successful in almost every role he was given. He was seen lining up as a single high deep safety, a cornerback, a blitzing rusher, and a box defender during his time at LSU, and many times we saw all of these roles in one game. He contributes in the pass and run defense. His athleticism and length gave him the ability to be a versatile defender in college. This should continue in the NFL. Here is an example of his versatility where he performed multiple different roles in the same game.
In this clip, Delpit is used in numerous roles and spots on the field versus Alabama. Delpit is a blitzer off the edge in the first play. He shows good timing on the blitz and gets a free lane to the quarterback, causing the quarterback to rush the throw and throw an incompletion. In the second play, Delpit is the single high safety for the defense. Alabama runs a quick slant to the inside, and though the pass was inaccurate, Delpit closes incredibly quick and pretty much meets the receiver when the ball arrives, giving the receiver no chance to make an acrobatic catch. In the third play, Delpit is off-man coverage versus the slot receiver. Delpit shows good change of direction to stay right on the receiver as he breaks to the outside and keep him covered tightly throughout the route. In the final play, he is the single-high safety. Delpit has to scour the backend of the defense and when he sees the deep route crossing in the middle of the field, Delpit picks up the receiver that had broken away from his cornerback in coverage. The pass is off target, but Delpit was in a position to defend against the pass to the receiver.
Delpit has amazing explosion and closing speed. He has the ability to quickly see something in front of him and close in a flash to make a play on the ball. His reaction skills are so quick. This helps him as an off-man corner or as a zone defender reacting to what is happening around him. He can stop and break on a ball in incredible fast fashion. His ability to change direction on a dime is a huge asset for him in this area of his game. Here are some examples of his click and close ability.
In the first play versus Florida, Delpit is in off-man coverage against the slot receiver closest to the offensive line. The receiver runs a quick stick route and the quarterback fires it to him when he breaks to stop. Delpit is able to stop on a dime and explode down onto the receiver when the ball arrives, even though the pass is off-target. In the second play versus Florida, Delpit is playing as deep safety over top. He sees the seam route developing and the quarterback eying the tight end. He is able to break even before the ball has left the quarterback’s hand, driving hard inside to hit the tight end right when the tight end catches it, knocking it away from the pass-catcher with a big hit. The final play versus Auburn Delpit is in off coverage versus the second furthest receiver on the right side of the formation. Auburn runs a slant route. The pass is behind the target, but the pass-catcher gets his hands on it. However, Delpit had broken on the route and hit the pass-catcher right when the ball comes in, laying a big hit to knock the ball loose.
Delpit is not afraid to stick his head in traffic to make a play. He is an aggressive defender who sees what’s happening and quickly attacks the play. He is not afraid to help out in the box and defend the run, even though he may struggle to tackle. His aggression helps him get to plays quickly and on time. Here are some examples of his aggressive and fearless play.
The first play is against Georgia Southern. From his spot in the second level, Delpit reads the backfield motioning to right and almost immediately even before the quarterback starts to go that direction. Delpit shoots down and passes the lead blocker to meet the quarterback in the backfield and trip him up for a loss on the play. In the first play versus Auburn, Delpit is initially in the right slot, but when he sees the play begin, he reads the run play and breaks inside to help out. He runs right to the hole to fill the hole and help take down the runner with the help of his teammates. In the final play versus Georgia, he is lined up in off coverage against the three-receiver set on the right side of the field. Delpit sees a quick screen happen in front of him. He quickly and aggressively tracks down toward the receiver, getting to the receiver and throwing him out of bounds before the receiver can break off a nice gain.
Delpit has excellent mirror skills to play in man coverage versus a variety of pass catchers. He has the length and athleticism to cover tight ends in the slot. He also has the change of direction ability and athleticism to cover receivers. He was used in man coverage frequently at LSU because he was one of their best man cover defensive backs on the roster. Here are some examples of his mirror skills.
For the first play versus Florida, Delpit is lined up in press-man coverage against the tight end in the slot. He is able to easily mirror the tight end for his ten-yard stick route inside and then stick with him as he does a scramble drill. To cap it off Delpit is able to get past the tight end and make the third-down stop on the scrambling quarterback. In the second play against Florida, Delpit is in off-man coverage versus the tight end in the slot. The tight end runs a post route to the endzone. Delpit shows good depth where he is able to easily break with the tight end and close on the route. The final play versus Alabama has Delpit in off-man coverage against the slot receiver. The slot receiver runs an out route, but Delpit shows perfect mirror skills to break with the receiver and give the receiver no space to get open.
Delpit has great eyes in the secondary. He reads the quarterback extremely well and can quickly move to the direction of the play because of this ability. Delpit’s eyes allow him to line up as a single high safety and zone coverage defensive back because he can quickly read and diagnose the play to break and make plays on the pass. His eyes are a true asset to his game and one that makes him even more valuable for the defense. Here are some examples of his strong eyes in the secondary.
In the first play versus Georgia, Delpit is in the box for this play. When the ball is snapped, he watches the quarterback throughout the play, reading the eyes of the quarterback. Delpit moves around to stay in front of the quarterback’s eyes, ending with Delpit tipping the pass that is coming over his head. In the second play versus Georgia Southern, Delpit uses his eyes to read the mesh handoff in the backfield and diagnose that the quarterback is keeping the ball. Once he reads it, he shoots to the left flat and helps bring down the quarterback. In the final play versus Florida, Delpit is the single-high safety. Delpit reads the quarterback and sees that his first option is closed off underneath on the right, so he knows that the quarterback will likely try deep, so Delpit breaks on the deep route and in front of the receiver who was in a position to make the catch. Delpit breaks it up for an incompletion.
This is the biggest question mark and weakness in Delpit’s game. It is the most glaring weakness and quite frankly the only thing holding him back. His tackling problem is multi-faceted. He can take horrible angles, creating tougher tackle attempts. He can have a poor form where he lowers his head and dives toward the ball carrier, rather than staying square and driving through the target. And, in some instances, he comes with a weak attempt where he is just outmuscled by the ball carrier. His tackling ability needs improvement in numerous areas. Here are some examples of his poor tackling.
In the first play versus Ole Miss, Delpit is one of the deep safeties, lining up on the right side of the field. The play is a fake pitch quarterback keeper to the right. Delpit thinks the quarterback is going outside, but the quarterback cuts inside. This gets Delpit out of position where he has to take a bad angle tackle attempt, missing the tackle because of it. In the second play versus Alabama, Delpit has the right flat in coverage, with his eyes on the running back who ran out there. The quarterback tosses it to the back and Delpit is in the perfect position to make the stop, but Delpit makes a horrible diving tackle attempt. Rather than running through the tackle, he tries to dive and trip up the running back. But, the running back easily evades the tackle and moves upfield. For the final play against Alabama Delpit is the single-high safety. The running back breaks through the line and heads down the left sideline. Delpit comes over and tries to stop the running back, but he tries a horrible tackle attempt. He lowers his head, losing his target, and offers a weak tackle attempt without wrapping up the ball carrier, allowing the running back to easily brush it off.