If Grant Delpit Falls Bears Should Put Out Their Hands

Thorpe Award winner seems to be slighted in NFL mock drafts but he'd be an ideal fit for what the Bears need in Round 2 at his position

In mid-December during the NFL season, ESPN's Todd McShay issued a mock draft without the complete order available yet and had LSU safety Grant Delpit slated to go 12th in Round 1.

McShay no longer has Delpit going in Round 1 in his lastest mock draft, but at No. 41 just ahead of where the Bears first pick at No. 43.

Sports Illustrated's Kevin Hanson had Delpit in Round 1 at No. 27 on Feb. 25 and he's in Round 2 in the latest mock at No. 36 to the Giants.

Peter Prisco of CBS Sports had Delpit at No. 23 in February and now nowhere to be found in Round 1. In fact, none of CBS Sports' three mock drafts have Delpit in Round 1.

It's a testament to how time and overanalysis can affect mock drafting.

If mock drafts meant anything in relation to reality, based on the previous rate of decline with another week and a half until the draft begins, one of the best safeties in the draft could fall into the Bears' laps at No. 43.

Delpit sent out a "pro day" video last week to Adam Schefter of ESPN showing him running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, possibly to help prove he's over last season's ankle problems.

Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid and Jamal Adams are all former LSU safeties who succeeded in the NFL, and there's no real reason to think Delpit can't also do it after he won the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back. 

Based on the questioning of Delpit at the NFL Scouting Combine, there seems to be concern over his tackling which never came up in 2018 when he seemed more dominant. But during that year he wasn't playing through a bad ankle injury. He also might have been more out of position in 2019 while playing more free safety than strong safety.

"This year I played more free safety because that’s what the team needed, so I played a lot of percent of my snaps in the middle of the field," he told reporters at the combine. "We went 15-0, so I could never complain. But watch my sophomore (2018) tape, freshman tape, I played all over the box. So I think I can do it all."

Teammates have rushed to Delpit's defense over some missed tackles while being deployed deeper in the secondary than in the past, among those possible first-round cornerback Kristian Fulton.

"Definitely the top safety in this draft," Fulton said. "And the tackling, you've seen him make tackles. He can make that in his sleep. Injuries that's been plagued on him.

"Also, he's learned from every tackle that he's missed. I've seen him on in the film late just trying to see which ways he can correct himself. I don't feel like he can't tackle. He's working on his approach to making a tackle but that's something that we work on. Safeties and corners. I think that's gonna be fixed easy."

Delpit admitted he was challenged by playing the top in a single-high defense.

"It's a tough job, roaming the middle of the field and getting sideline to sideline," he said. "You've got to do a lot of film study, watch quarterback tendencies. Does he look you off? Does he tend to throw to one side, have a favorite receiver? It's definitely a top job, but I think I do a great job of that, among other things."

If the questions linger and Delpit fell to the Bears, he wouldn't have to worry about playing deep because it's Eddie Jackson's strength.

Delpit made 38 tackles and two interceptions last year. He had 46 tackles and five interceptions in 2018 playing closer to the line.

Practices could be as challenging as games for many players at his position because he was defending against quarterback Joe Burrow.

"That's the best quarterback I've ever played against, I've ever seen in person," Delpit said. "Having him on our team, playing against him in practice really prepared us to see the best every week.

"I wasn't surprised going into any game of a quarterback's skills, because I saw the best quarterback every week, every day in practice."

The question is whether it all convinces teams he's a Round 1 pick, or whether he could slipping to the Bears in the second round at No. 43.

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