The Atlanta Falcons need help in the defensive secondary, and that is by no means a secret. LSU Safety Grant Delpit could add some much-needed improvement to our secondary.
This entire draft cycle for the Atlanta Falcons has seemingly been about drafting an edge rusher in K’lavon Chaisson or AJ Epenesa. Now there are rumblings the team may trade up to go after Javon Kinlaw or the prized target of Isaiah Simmons. Well, I certainly wouldn’t bat my eyes at drafting Simmons, that would be a great pick up, however, our free safety position could provide the biggest void and threat to our success in 2020.
The desire to get an edge rusher came well before the Atlanta Falcons signed Dante Fowler. Now that the Falcons have added an edge rusher who is coming off a season with 11.5 sacks, this gives leeway for the team to address this spot in the second round or later.
So why Delpit?
It’s not more so “why Grant Delpit?” but rather why a free safety in general. In the past two seasons, the Atlanta Falcons have been forced to move cornerback Damontae Kazee to the safety position due to injuries to both Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. In 2019, the Atlanta Falcons moved Ricardo Allen to strong safety to better suit Kazee as the deep cover man.
This is an issue as Kazee has no instincts that allow him to be successful as a free safety. Numerous times Kazee has been caught not providing adequate support downfield and is often arriving late to the play. Kazee has shown that he is better inside as a nickel corner.
When the Atlanta Falcons pick at number 16, in all likelihood, Delpit will still be on the board. Delpit has range. He has the speed to cover tons of ground and has the natural ability to explode across the field to break up a pass. Getting hands on the ball should be a focal point when thinking about taking a free safety in the first round, Delpit offers this.
While Delpit is viewed as above average when in man coverage, he is probably the best in the draft in terms of zone coverage. When playing in the NFC South, it is essential to have prime coverage in the secondary or offenses that can scheme past edge rushers and march their way downfield.
Delpit is also a very intelligent safety. His ability to properly read quarterbacks and the angles he takes in pursuit of the ball are near uncoachable. His pursuit angles mix well with his speed and allow for him to extend his range across the field. Numerous times has Kazee kept his eyes in the backfield too long and failed to provide coverage up top.
To add to his strengths, Grant has shown to be a very hard hitter. Whether it be attacking a runner or trying to disrupt a pass, Delpit goes full force. As shown in the National Title Game against Clemson, Delpit has the speed and explosiveness to attack the quarterback and provide pressure and/or get a sack.
The only notable weakness in Delpit’s game is tackling. Delpit is a low hitter, he hits around the thighs. This has been a reason as to why Delpit has whiffed on more than plenty of tackles during his career at LSU. His tackling alone s the reason he is projected to be a mid-first to early second-rounder. Grant has also been considered by people as a box safety, however, this is not where Delpit excels. It’s not reliable to rely on Delpit to stuff a run.
Numerous analyst compares Delpit to former SEC safety Eric Berry. The two safeties share numerous instincts when coming out of college, however, Berry was a much better ballhawk than Delpit.
In all actuality, the Atlanta Falcons need a real stud at free safety. Adding another top safety to the mix will also provide insurance if ever Neal or Allen goes out for an extended period of time again. The Atlanta Falcons are also entering an issue where 2020 is a contract year for safety Keanu Neal and the same for Ricardo Allen in 2021.
The Atlanta Falcons could replace one of those guys by drafting Delpit. Allen is sufficient enough to play a strong safety spot if the Atlanta Falcons decided to step away from Nea after this season.