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Road to the Pros: LSU Safety Grant Delpit Looking to be Next Great Defensive Back to Grace NFL Stage

Delpit projected as late-first, early-second round pick in mock drafts

At a school that claims the title of “DBU” for their ability to produce elite defensive back talent at the next level, Grant Delpit is primed to be the next LSU Tiger to grace an NFL franchise.

Delpit fit the build of the prototypical LSU DB from the minute his career started in Baton Rouge. He had the swagger. He had the IQ. He had the playmaking ability that eventually landed him the coveted No. 7 his junior season. He epitomized everything that DBU represented.

Winning the Jim Thorpe Award in 2019 as the premier defensive back in college football, one would think it was all smooth sailing for Delpit last season at face value. It wasn’t.

He did record 65 tackles, 4.5 for loss, two sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups in 14 starts during LSU’s national title run, but it would be soon overshadowed by a lingering high ankle sprain suffered in the fourth quarter against Auburn on Oct. 26.

Delpit wouldn’t miss any game action, but even he would admit he wasn’t himself going forward. Nonetheless, he played through it and showed incredible toughness for the remaining seven games. In fact, he didn’t just play in those remaining games, he showed out. When it mattered most, the first-team All-SEC safety who played high school ball in Houston, Texas made 10 tackles and didn’t miss a single one throughout the conference championship and playoffs.

To put it into perspective, when Delpit answered questions at the NFL Combine in late-February, he told reporters he still wasn’t exactly 100% from the injury, forcing him to sit out all week.

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That was a month and a half removed from the Jan. 13 National Championship game.

Open-field tackling was one of Delpit’s biggest “critiques” this season, but when the lights shined brightest, he put his critics to rest for big time performances on big time stages.

Once a prohibitive top-five draft selection, Delpit’s name has gone up and down mock boards, ranging anywhere from mid-first round to early-second round. What’s the reason for that? The tackling issues and the ankle injury. But, don’t get it twisted: Grant Delpit is a top-five talent.

“We've talked a lot about Delpit's missed tackle problem (20 on 71 attempts this year), but not enough about the fact that he's only allowed nine receptions in his coverage all season,” said Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus. “On 17 targets, he's got six combined picks and pass breakups.”

Most Intriguing Destination: I’d say the Cleveland Browns, a team loaded with former Tigers, and in desperate need of a safety. With picks at No. 10 overall and No. 41 overall, landing a former unanimous All-American to add to their secondary wouldn’t be a bad pick for either spot. And as a native of the Lone Star State, the Dallas Cowboys could also be an interesting destination for Delpit at No. 17, a team whose depth at safety has been a cause for concern in recent seasons.

Writer’s Note: With the NFL Draft just under six weeks from now, concerns surrounding COVID-19 will likely force the league to make some tough decisions in the coming weeks. For Delpit and the other LSU draft prospects, the early rounds in Las Vegas were primed to be dominated by Tigers. Stay tuned for updates as the situation develops.