Detroit Lions: 3 safeties to keep tabs on during the 2021 NFL Draft

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Detroit Lions
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The Detroit Lions should have an interest in safety Richie Grant.

Richie Grant, a 23-year old, will enter the 2021 NFL Draft way of the University of Central Florida (UCF).

I expect Detroit Lions’ newly appointed general manager (GM) Brad Holmes to make a conscious effort to improve the teams’ defense immediately.  One way to start doing that in a salary cap-stricken year is through the NFL Draft.

Richie Grant is a redshirt senior classman, and Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 19th overall safety coming out of 366 possible players.

Last season Grant totaled 616 defensive snaps earning a 79.4 overall grade playing 237 of those snaps around the line of scrimmage in the box in run support like a strong safety.  Grant also totaled 226 snaps as a deep safety in coverage, playing more like a free safety. It was noteworthy that Grant played 144 snaps working out of the slot on a receiver or tight end.

In my eyes, similar to Gillespie, Grant projects to be more of a strong safety at the professional level.  Many have Grant as a free safety, but personally, I believe he’s better locked up with a tight end and aiding in run support rather than working in centerfield or opposite the shifty NFL slot pass-catchers.

You may also be picking up a theme here, I’d be far more eager to replace Will Harris than Tracy Walker at this point, but I do believe both are very replaceable.

According to PFF, Grant earned a stellar 90.0 grade defending the run in 2020, the best in all of college football at his position.

Grant recorded 72 total tackles in nine games last season, recording three interceptions and one sack.  His most complete season came as a sophomore, where he totaled 108 tackles and six interceptions in 13 games has struggled to mirror those remarkable numbers since.

Last season Grant also defended five passes, along with forcing and recovering a pair of fumbles.  It’s noteworthy to mention Grant committed to a 0-12 UCF team as a two-star recruit; he will enter the NFL with a chip on his shoulder; this should play well for whoever opts to draft the multipurpose safety.

Grant earned some recognition as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award last season, awarded to the nation’s top defensive back.  The winner was safety Trevon Moehrig.  Patrick Surtain II was also a finalist; both are expected to be first-round selections.   Grant is expected to be drafted in the second-round but MAY slip through the cracks to the third-round and someone the Detroit Lions need to keeps tabs on.