1. Richie Grant, S, UCF
Versatile defenders who can play several positions are extremely valuable in then NFL and, while listed as a safety, Grant excelled at dropping down and playing man coverage from the slot during an outstanding week of practice.
Ian Cummings previews Grant with his breakdown of the UCF safety:
"“Some factors prevent Grant from being considered the draft’s top safety. He can still be more consistent, and his age also generates pause. Grant will be 24 years old by November of his rookie season, so there might be more long-term potential with other players. Nevertheless, Grant is still an impact player with a nice floor-ceiling combination, and he also grew to be a defensive leader for UCF. His fast play speed, combined with his athleticism and physical mentality, ensures he’ll have a role waiting for him no matter where he’s picked.”"
Registering a pair of interceptions of Jamie Newman in team drills, Grant demonstrated excellent awareness and consistently won through playing with his eyes to read both the quarterback and the receiver while regularly getting excellent breaks on the football.
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He also showed the patience to stay square at the snap and a desire to use physicality to stay in tight coverage and disrupt receivers, proving in the process that he is capable of defending both wideouts and tight ends, his coverage of Georgia standout Tre McKitty in one on ones particularly impressive.
Perhaps the strongest area of Grant’s game in Mobile was what he did at the catch point. Grant displayed a seemingly innate sense for getting inside the catch radius of receivers, including those with a distinct size advantage over him, and breaking up the pass.
A moveable chess piece with an apparent knack for making plays on the ball, Grant should have caught the eye of teams across the league at the Senior Bowl and, for those prioritizing finding defenders who can guard wideouts, backs and the increasing number of mismatch tight ends in equal measure, he has to be in the first-round mix.