Watch: Atlanta Falcons’ sophomore DB looking like a breakout star
There is one specific Atlanta Falcons player that no defensive back in the league wants to match up against, that being Kyle Pitts.
However, the player the Falcons took after Kyle Pitts in last year’s draft has been welcoming the nightmare matchup in training camp, and to say his results are impressive is an understatement.
Falcons defensive back Richie Grant is looking like he could have an A.J. Terrell-esque leap
Think about the similarities here, the Falcons had a rookie in 2020 who struggled throughout the season but then made massive leap in his second year where he became one of the NFL’s elite coverage guys, and while he was thriving, another Falcons defensive back was struggling in what was his rookie year. See the trend?
Richie Grant was not good as a rookie but he was also thrown right onto the field while being asked to play a lot of slot corner. Not easy for anyone.
However, one of the biggest takeaways in training camp thus far is how well Richie Grant has been playing — especially when matched up against Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Pitts.
Here is the first example of Richie Grant putting the clamps on Kyle Pitts:
Three things stick out in this video, the first being how well Richie is able to mirror Kyle Pitts one-on-one. For much of the play, he is just reading Kyle’s body to stick with him and manages to stay hip-to-hip with one of the most athletic players in the NFL.
The second thing is how he uses his physicality on Pitts but would not have given any referee a reason to throw a flag. It is all about using your hands to redirect a receiver but not restricting him and Grant does that to perfection here. It is the reason why the ball looks off-target.
And last, but not least, is how quick Richie Grant is able to change direction. Pitts is not your usual tight end, he runs quick and sharp routes for a guy his size, so the fact that Grant is able to keep up with each of Kyle’s breaks is incredible.
Here is the second video of Richie Grant making a great play on a superstar tight end:
There is not too much to this route for Pitts, it is designed to use his size in the end zone. The ball was slightly late and short, but this was still an incredible play by Grant.
Richie was beaten slightly on the route but there is one thing you should notice about how he makes up for it, watch how fast he reacts to Kyle reaching for the ball. Grant immediately swipes to break up the ball despite having his back to the play. It was a ridiculously quick reaction by him.
If that pass was right on time, Grant likely would have been beaten on the play for a touchdown but not every pass in the NFL is perfect, and for Grant to be able to force an incompletion is remarkable.
It looks like the Falcons might have their solution for locking down opposing tight ends this year like Zach Ertz, Pat Freiermuth, and Mark Andrews. Sure, this is only two plays but it shows he has all the talent he needs to be a superstar.
He will also be a vital piece on the defense for Dean Pees because he can play numerous positions.
So, it might be time to start talking about a huge second-year leap by Richie Grant. Early indications are that the Falcons might have another star in the secondary.