The second edition of Bucs Briefing will dive headlong into a scenario that I’m quickly learning most Tampa fans would dread: no offensive linemen in Round 1 or 2!

Remember, I’m not necessarily advocating for the picks that I make in these pre-draft Bucs Briefing columns. The objective is to look in-depth at all potential Round 1 scenarios by the draft (whether we like them or not), as well as some likely targets for the team in Rounds 2 and 3.

Round 1 – Pick 14

Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Height: 6-3

Weight: 201

Class: Junior

D.O.B.: 9/20/98

Statistical Profile: Delpit has been a key member of the LSU secondary each of the three years he’s spent on campus, including a full-time starter during his sophomore and junior campaigns. Eight interceptions, 24 pass breakups, seven sacks and 17.5 tackles-for-loss highlight his time at LSU, where he aligned all over the Tigers’ defense.

Scouting Delpit: I’ve been evaluating NFL draft prospects for seven years now, and Delpit is going to be one of the most difficult evaluations I’ve ever had to complete on tape. Not because he’s had to figure out, but because his evaluation requires me to admit I was probably too high on him coming into the 2019 CFB season.

I was one of the first people to start talking about Delpit in the draft world, as he continually caught my eye as a part-time player during his true freshman season at LSU.

He was big, explosive, rangy, quick to the trigger in run support and deadly as a single-high, ball-hawking safety. I loved him and I’m pretty sure he loved me, and there was nothing anyone could do to separate us.

And then his 2018 season came. And he was good but still not quite the same player. He missed more tackles, but that comes with more playing time, right? He had five interceptions, some of which were pretty awesome, and that was enough to overlook some of the Y-I-K-E-S reps in man coverage, because just play him deep and he’ll be fine! Some of Delpit’s plays as a single-high safety were eye-popping.

Then in 2019, the excuses ran out. Delpit struggled mightily in man coverage when he was used there, but was mostly a non-factor and at times a liability as a deep safety in run support. LSU played him less around the box than they had in previous seasons, so there weren’t all the sacks and unblocked tackles-for-loss and pass breakups in shallow zone to distract from some of Delpit’s bigger flaws.

You can look in 2018 and you can look in 2019, and you’re gonna see that Delpit struggles in man coverage against quality competition. His footwork is poor, he’s not patient enough to read releases before reacting and he lacks the recovery speed to make up ground once separation has been established.

That’s Mecole Hardman (in 2018), man. You’re gonna roll up on a 4.3 40 guy right before the snap, and then give him a clean release to run by you? Can’t happen.

“Well, not everyone can run like Hardman. He’ll be fine against tight ends.”

I certainly like Delpit’s odds more against tight ends, but he’s gotta play off of everybody unless he gets his technique and footwork right. Here’s him in man against 4.63 40 tight end Irv Smith, ain’t pretty.

Missed his jam, jumped inside and gotten eaten up quickly. Also, not the only play that has made me question just how fast Delpit is. High 4.5s guy? Is that fast enough?

Delpit is better in man coverage when he’s playing off the receiver, and it’s actually where several of his career interceptions and pass breakups have come (admittedly some on horrendous throws). But even there, you’ve gotta be mindful of his match-up. The quicker slots, who were NFL-caliber route runners, tended to eat him up. He just doesn’t have the feet to match these guys if he makes even a slight misdirected step.

Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore are both excellent route runners, admittedly. Guess what? So are dudes in the NFL. If you want to measure how good a college football player is, watch him against the best competition possible. That’s where Delpit clearly came up short in man coverage.

It’s not the end of the world if a safety is limited in man coverage, but what is a little bit concerning for me is just how tight Delpit is in his transitions, and how much separation is granted in almost all of these scenarios. I think we’re dealing with a good athlete in Delpit, but not a great one, especially in his functional movement as a defensive back (turns, transitions, lateral steps, change of direction). He can be explosive in a straight line, but get him moving sideways and you’ve got the advantage.

This is the perfect play to transition from Delpit’s coverage woes, to his other biggest concern: tackling and angles. I’ve watched the play above 50 times, and I still have no idea where he is running after he realizes he’s been beaten. If anything he widens the space between he and the receiver (Moore) with his angle to the ball. Then he overruns the play and can’t get the receiver on the ground. He’s got to at least finish the play right.

Unfortunately, poor angles in pursuit is not an uncommon issue for Delpit. Pro Football Focus’ Lead Draft Analyst Mike Renner wrote in his recent safety rankings that Delpit has 36 missed tackles in 159 attempts over the past two seasons. So roughly every 4.5 times Delpit goes to tackle someone he’s gonna miss. And those numbers don’t even take into account the angles like the one above, that take him completely out of the equation as a tackler. Here’s another example below, where Delpit chases backfield eye candy instead of filling vs the run.

I could pull so many examples of missed tackles, but perhaps the strangest thing is that the issues vary from Delpit’s angles, to ankle-nipping and even to dropping his eyes while closing on a target. It’s all ugly and it has shown up on tape for years.

You’ve got to break down and tackle behind your pads. You better be absolutely special in other areas to see the field in the NFL if you are gonna try to arm-tackle guys coming at you full speed.

Even Georgia’s kicker brought the thunder to Delpit!

I’m not gonna belabor the point. You get it. Even if you love Delpit and think he’s the best player in the draft, you know he’s a bad tackler. To an extent, I’m willing to overlook that if he brings other things to the table. More on that in a second.

Here is the last thing I’ll say before I get to some of Delpit’s positives. I really hate to question a player’s effort unless it is painfully obvious, so I’ll just say there are some reps on Delpit’s tape where I can’t understand what he’s thinking. Why is he playing the situation the way he is?

Delpit is #9 in the clip above from 2018. He’s in pursuit after Jerry Jeudy catches the ball and the Bama WR executes one of his patented wicked cuts. Okay, sometimes you get beat in the open field. But then Delpit turns around and kind of slow plays him until the play is over? He never commits to a tackle attempt. He doesn’t even really ever move toward him again during the play. I just don’t get it.

LSU linebacker Patrick Queen is fighting off a block and still gets in a tackle attempt here, but Delpit isn’t going to dive at the goal line? This can be a forced fumble, or at least cause a definite stop short of the end zone. How many times do we see these exact kind of plays turn into touchbacks because the defender just lays out and hits that ball as the runner extends for the goal line?

Again, if that’s the only concern with Delpit and tackling/angles, I probably ignore it. But there have been times during each of the past two seasons where I’m confused by what he chooses or does not choose to do in tackling situations. These are not the only two instances of that either.

So, why is Delpit perhaps the consensus top safety in the class if he struggles in man coverage and as a tackler? Because he has some traits that are still highly coveted for safeties in the NFL: range and ball skills.

Delpit has made some pretty outstanding plays on the ball over the past couple of years, mostly as a deep safety. He definitely made less of them against quality competition than I would liked to have seen, but when he reads the quarterback and isn’t wasting steps, his range and angles can be really impressive.

The other thing about Delpit that is easy to love is his ability to read-and-react, even as a deep safety. Run or pass, if it happens outside the box Delpit is almost always around the football. Sometimes he makes the stop and sometimes he doesn’t, but he’s consistently around the football and not often caught out of position.

The same is true in deep coverage. Delpit hasn’t given up a ton of catches or yards in deep coverage over his career for two reasons: bad anticipatory quarterback play in the SEC (because there have been some openings at times) and good anticipatory play on his part. He’s able to identify routes and get in position to make a play over the top, keeping teams from hitting home run balls on LSU throughout most of his career.

There’s a ton of value to having a guy like that on the back end, if you can deal with the missed tackles from your last line of defense. Delpit has been heralded as a leader at LSU, albeit perhaps not to the degree of a Devin White or a Jamal Adams, and his football character and desire to improve will need to be measured closely by teams during the pre-draft process.

LSU S Grant Delpit
LSU S Grant Delpit – Photo by: Getty Images

It’s also going to be vital for Delpit to test well at the NFL Scouting Combine. Right now his value comes in being a great athlete that can range and make plays as a free safety and offer enough versatility to do other stuff if his tackling improves. Some of that value goes away if he is just an okay athlete.

The other role that I enjoy watching Delpit played is as a pseudo linebacker around the box. He actually plays the run better there than he does coming from deep, although his tackling form still leaves a lot to be desired. He’s also a great blitzer off the edge, flying in with reckless abandon and causing havoc even if he doesn’t get home. His physicality really comes out when he can pin his ears back and get after the quarterback.

Bucs Fit: Schematically, Delpit is definitely a fit for Todd Bowles’ defense, with the safest usage for the LSU junior likely coming at free safety. The Bucs’ run defense was good last year, and if they can keep him relatively clean in the tackling game, Delpit can use his coverage instincts and range to prevent big plays and make a few splash ones himself.

However, the bottom line with Delpit is this: although I’ve loved him for years, I’m just not sure the positives out-weigh the negatives anymore, not enough to select him in Round 1 at least. There is at least one better true free safety in this class in Ashtyn Davis and there are several better players at positions of need likely to be available for the Bucs at No. 14.

If Delpit falls to Round 2, let’s see what the options are, but in Round 1 I’d hard pass on the player who was once my favorite prospect in the country. The risk is just too great, and I’m not sure the reward outweighs it.

CLICK ON PAGE 2 FOR MY ROUND 2 SCOUTING REPORT

1
2
3
4
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft

36
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
20 Comment threads
16 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
22 Comment authors
Alldaway 2.0Jon LedyardBucRyHockey Duckiejrwilson85 Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
fredster
Member
fredster

Robinson sounds interesting. The draft picks don’t excite me at all. Nobody that would contribute much next season sounds like. I think most fans will be disappointed if we don’t go OT in first round for good reason. It’s just not been a good O line or run game for too many years now no matter who they end up starting at QB.

Captain Sly
Member
Captain Sly

Wow Jon you just crushed Grant Delpit! In our division with Julio, C Ridley & Micheal Thomas though we could use a Playmaker at Free Safety. I’m not burning the 1st round pick on him though! I agree with you on Gross-Mateo, He’s a project similar to Carl Nassib. He has no pass rush moves to make the tackle second guess and he would just get eaten alive in the league. Hard Pass John Runyan jr. interest me though, I have not heard that name come up a lot. I could see him in a Bucs uniform and like you… Read more »

BigSombrero
Member
BigSombrero

Nice write ups on the players.

Runyon would be a nice addition later in the draft. Michigan lineman with great bloodlines can’t hurt!

Gross-Matos has maturity and intangibles that push his stock up, as do all those TFL’s. If the Bucs take him, I could see him taking lessons from JPP for a year and eventually replacing him.

I like the thought of adding to Arians WR corps with a solid prospect like Robinson.

Dman
Member
Dman

Solid analysis, Jon, thanks.

I’ve never been a huge Delpit fan, but have been in the minority. Great review on him.

OT Charles out of LSU would be a great later round pick. Young, gifted, needs coaching.

Will be interested in how Runyan and Gross-Matos perform at the combine.

Allanh1
Member
Allanh1

Seems like only yesterday Sapp and Rice were destroying Jon Runyan and co., now the man has a kid entering the draft! Funny how one distant name Runyan can trigger great football memories!

bucballer
Member
bucballer

Good read! I only know this… the Bucs have to hit on that 14th pick! They just have to! Has to be a starter too! Go O-Line! It is by far the biggest NEED position!

BUC-ASS-BOB
Member
BUC-ASS-BOB

Until the Bucs solve QB issue all of this is wasted words, I heard Jameis going to Chicago as back up at 9 Million……

chefboho
Member
chefboho

Really? Whose your source? Or is this something the mechanic told you while you were getting your oil changed?

cgmaster27
Member
cgmaster27

Chef its probably the same guy that told him nick foles would be our starting qb last year.

chefboho
Member
chefboho

Haha! 👏🏼

BUC-ASS-BOB
Member
BUC-ASS-BOB

Read it on Bears wire, sources close to Bears wire said 9 Million as the backup to Mitch Trubisky.
Best deal outside Bucs he will get offered

cgmaster27
Member
cgmaster27

Well hell if its on the bears wire it has to be true right? Stop dude, thats like using cnn as a reference.

Charlie
Member
Charlie

I’m so turned off by the players profiled, I don’t want to read this column. This draft would set the Bucs back a couple years.

wish-in-one-hand
Member
wish-in-one-hand

I was very high on Delpit but this analysis has definitely opened my eyes.

BucRy
Member
BucRy

I just don’t see the point in bringing in another young safety when we already have a few young guys still learning the position. I’d much rather bring in a vet in free agency, we need more veterans at the position.

chefboho
Member
chefboho

Agreed. Rubbish to bringing in another rookie to learn the position. This team has wasted enough draft pics on safeties and cornerbacks. Pick a couple vets up to help the young guys and safe the draft pics for the trenches on both sides, and either a RB or WR. Heck you could even pick up some decent running backs on feee agency. There’s some good names that should be available

Horse
Member
Horse

Jon, good analysis.

fredster
Member
fredster

I agree We have used enough picks on secondary. Go to free agency if not happy with safety….

Hockey Duckie
Member
Hockey Duckie

Three reasons why it is possible to pick a safety in the draft: 1. You need to improve talent, not be content with weaker talent. 2. You need a long term solution. FA is a band-aid and could be costly. 3. Cost effectiveness. With that said and reading this scouting write-up, I’d back away from Delpit and would rather have that Alabama safety, where he’s interchangeable to play SS or FS. But that’s if he ranks higher than anyone else on our draft board when the 14th pick comes along. What is sad is that we’re drafting an OL in… Read more »

BucRy
Member
BucRy

What are you talking about, SMB was coming into his own and was even named onto the all rookie team. How is he following in the footsteps of VH3????

Hockey Duckie
Member
Hockey Duckie

I guess you don’t think Dean holds down the other starting CB position across from Davis then. If Dean does hold down the outside CB position, then SMB is the slot CB. Let’s throw down some hard facts here. SMB: PFF rating = 66.4, Targets = 71, Receptions Allowed = 51, Rec/Target rate = 71.8% reception rate Dean: PFF rating = 76.4, Targets = 47, Receptions Allowed = 23, Rec/Target rate = 48.9% reception rate So you’re telling me that you’d want SMB at outside CB, who allows almost 72% of the balls thrown his way to be caught instead… Read more »

BucRy
Member
BucRy

No one said anything about wanting SMB outside. I was simply confused as to why you would say that SMB is following in the footsteps of VH3 when that is far from the truth. I watched every game and been to most of them so I am fully aware of what Dean is capable of.

Hockey Duckie
Member
Hockey Duckie

@BucRy ,

You seriously cannot follow parallels, do you?

VH3:
Rookie year = outside CB
Sophomore year = slot CB

SMB:
Rookie year = outside CB
Sophomore year = slot CB

Bruh, if your mind keeps doing all these mental gymnastics, then you’re gonna hurt yourself sooner than later. Especially if you’re admitting that Dean is better than SMB, then you’re essentially agreeing with me that SMB is going the way of VH3.

It’s not rocket science here. It’s a parallel path we’re talking about.

BucRy
Member
BucRy

You sound desperate to prove a point lmao. Trying way too hard guy. No one even agreed with anything you said lmao.

fredster
Member
fredster

Another rookie safety or CB makes no sense

awwdembucs
Member
awwdembucs

fredster I agree. If the Bucs think a safety is the missing link then get a proven veteran.
Adams from the Jets is proven. The problem is how much do they want. As for the O linemen the Bucs really need to revamp the right side.

Spitfire
Member
Spitfire

I like your analysis Jon. Good to have you to replace Trevor. These are the kinds of analysis I like. Although everyone has their own opinion and no one is gospel obviously, scouting draft picks with honesty all around is exactly what everyone needs to hear. Too often teams draft guys off of athleticism and ceiling with all kinds of question marks. Those guys are stars when it works out but it seems to only work out 5-10% of the time. We need to draft guys that have the skills and work ethic, everyone needs polishing but if the talent… Read more »

Buc stops here
Member
Buc stops here

Honestly, I am just waiting to see who they draft. These are all guesses right now and because no one knows what they plan to do at QB, it really could impact what they do in the draft. Why we see in some “drafts’ the Bucs picking up Eason from Washington. It all really depends what they decide to do about Winston and the free agents out there, and it appears Teddy Bridgewater may make it out of New Orleans as Drew Brees committed this week to another year.

magoobee
Member
magoobee

Grant Delpit probably wasn’t even the best Safety in the SEC. Remember Xavier McKinney is also coming out. This Safety class seems too weak for a top half of the 1st round pick.

magoobee
Member
magoobee

I would be shocked if Yetur Gross-Matos falls to the Bucs in round 2. Good chance he goes in the 1st. Actually, I would not be surprised if he gets drafted before Grant Delpit.

surferdudes
Member

This kids no Ed Reed. That’s who he better be as good as taking him at 14. I’d rather bring in a vet safety, then draft one in the first round.

jrwilson85
Member
jrwilson85

I finally figured out what Pewter Report is. It is a wordy way to sell what the bone head Bucs are going to do anyway. They always go for sparkle rather than substance. O-line is the biggest problem area. Period !!!

Alldaway 2.0
Member
Alldaway 2.0

I do not want to hear the Bucs drafting a safety if they are not named Delpit or McKinney.

No green rookie outside of the first round is going to come in and win a starting job over this safety crew under contract for the Bucs. And that assumes the Bucs don’t sign a veteran safety which is also highly unlikely.