The Richie Grant scouting report wouldn’t be complete without first discussing his rise to stardom. Grant was not a highly touted prospect coming out of high school in Florida. In fact, the University of Central Florida was the only FBS football program that offered Grant a roster spot. Grant redshirted his first year on campus and the next season he played sparingly. However, as a sophomore, Grant erupted at UCF by leading the American Athletic Conference with six interceptions. In his most recent collegiate season that was abbreviated due to Covid-19, Grant was still able to total 72 tackles, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
Elite Ball Skills
Grant ranks ninth all-time for career interception totals in the American Athletic Conference. As a talented former high school receiver, Grant possesses soft and reliable hands. On tape, Grant’s ability in the middle of the field stood out. He was able to frequently read the eyes of quarterbacks and make instinctual plays on the ball. Much of Grant’s talent as a turnover machine in college came from his anticipation of passing routes and quarterback tendencies. Grant owns solid size for a free safety and he does a great job of high pointing the ball even against bigger receivers.
Not a Shy Tackler
Grant isn’t afraid of lowering his shoulder pads and coming in heavy against running backs and receivers. Grant did a great job of making receivers and backs feel his presence in the middle of the field. Many times on tape you would see him moving aggressively downhill before making contact on a ball carrier. Some free safeties shy away from making hits on ball carriers, but that is not the type of player Richie Grant is. Grant’s physicality will translate nicely to the next level.
Richie Grant is one of those defenders that always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Whether that’s catching deflected interceptions, punching the ball away from ball carriers, or bailing on coverages to make timely plays on the ball. In coverage or as a pursuing defender, Grant is very talented at getting his hands on the ball. Some of the things Grant is able to do in terms of causing turnovers you just aren’t able to teach. Stripping and punching the ball away consistently in the NFL is a developed art form for a defender. Some guys just hunt the Duke better than others.
In watching Grant’s college tape there were moments where you would see him moving and standing very upright while he was in coverage. At the next level, he could stand to improve his technique in sinking his hips effectively and moving laterally. There were also instances where you could see Grant taking poor angles when pursuing ball carriers. Improving these skills will only help Grant as he will soon go up against faster and more agile receivers and running backs in the NFL.
Grant is one of the more interesting free safety prospects that will be drafted in just a few days. In part because he redshirted his first year at UCF and will turn 24 around the halfway point of this NFL season. Grant is a full two years older than most of the free safeties that are slated to be drafted in this year’s early rounds. While being an elder statesman doesn’t eliminate him from early-round consideration, it is something that NFL front offices will consider in their decision-making process.
Richie Grant’s elite ball skills instantly make him an enticing prospect for any team drafting in the early rounds. From a physical standpoint, Grant isn’t lacking any attributes. Grant was used in a variety of different ways at UCF. He played as a single-high safety, in multiple coverages, and squared up against tight ends in the slot from time-to-time. Grant’s versatility to roam at free safety and also come down near the box and make plays on ball carriers is enticing from a GM’s perspective.
Grant put together a very impressive Senior Bowl in Mobile that elevated his draft stock. There’s a slim chance that Grant could be a round one selection on April 29th. However, odds are much higher that he will be a second-round pick. He’s got the instincts and ball skills to be an impact defensive back at the next level. There are some areas for improvement in his game, but for the large part, he’s fairly polished.