Denver Broncos roundtable: Which players should team draft in 2021?
Chandler Hyler’s “guy”: Richie Grant, S, UCF
Former University of Central Florida standout safety Richie Grant is my guy!
There is so much to love about Grant and his play on the field. Grant is not only a tackling machine but a turnover machine too. Vic Fangio’s defense is predicated on turnovers, and that is an area that has been lacking the previous years.
What is the cause for the lack of turnovers? Is it a lack of pressure, or a lack of ballhawks on the back end?
In my opinion, it is a little bit of both. Not that All-Pro Justin Simmons isn’t great, but current safety Kareem Jackson plays with a different style. He is a physical, in-the-box, smash-you-in-the-mouth type guy. Drafting Grant would provide the Broncos with a player on the back end who is physical and has a nose for the football.
In the last three years, Grant has amassed 70+ tackles every single year. That tells us that he is very willing to take that role over for Jackson as he is expected to playing his final year with the Broncos.
My favorite part about his game is his ability to create turnovers. During his career at UCF, he forced five fumbles, recovered two, along with ten interceptions. If I had a “comp” for Grant, it would be Charles “Peanut” Tillman. When he tackles you can see his effort in trying to jar the ball loose every time. Tillman did play corner, and Grant would be playing safety, but they’re built similarly.
The biggest concern I have heard with Grant is his age, as he will be turning 24 soon. This doesn’t concern me as much and the reason for that is he has already seen a lot of time on the field. This defense is ready now. This team is ready now. Grant could see the field sparingly in 2020, and when Jackson departs, he could fill in adamantly.
Grant’s versatility to play in multiple positions in the secondary should intrigue Fangio. In the third round of the draft last year, Fangio drafted a versatile defensive back in Michael Ojemudia. Having multiple chess pieces like this provides quality depth if injury occurs at an alarming rate like it did last year at cornerback.
Grant would be my top selection on day two, even if it had to be the 40th overall pick.