Depending on who you ask, the Cowboys have a different priority position of need. Replacing Byron Jones with a corner in the draft class needs to be on the to-do list, bringing in a reinforcement at pass rusher after Robert Quinn left town is essential, adding a safety in a talented class must be considered, and the wide receivers in this class are other-wordly.
At one point in time, it seemed that safety was the consensus top need for the Cowboys among draftniks. Regardless of who did the mock draft, the pick at 17 was seemingly always Xavier McKinney or Grant Delpit. It was hard to ignore the glaring hole next to Xavier Woods.
The Cowboys did go out into free agency and added veterans that should give them some flexibility heading into the draft. Adding the likes of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix address needs on the team, but should not prevent Dallas from adding a player that they really like at the position in the draft.
As mentioned above, one player that has been linked to the Dallas Cowboys for quite some time has been Grant Delpit, the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award winner out of LSU. Delpit was once considered a top-10 pick in his draft class heading into his junior season in Baton Rouge, but his stock has fallen tremendously in the past eight months.
LSU's Grant Delpit was viewed as a lock-10 pick before the 2019 CFB season.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) March 30, 2020
Now, he is in a battle with four other players to be the first safety drafted. pic.twitter.com/CuHxSCYS6P
What has happened to cause Delpit’s stock to drop?
Grant Delpit was a consensus top-70 prospect coming out of IMG Academy before signing with the Tigers in the 2017 signing class. During his first two seasons, Delpit blossomed into a star.
The New Orleans native was considered one of the elite defensive backs across the entire nation for his playmaking skills in the secondary. If there was a play to be made, it was likely Delpit that was going to make it for Ed Orgeron’s defense.
Unfortunately, tons of question marks about his game popped up over the course of his final season on the collegiate level. Despite LSU raising its level on the way to becoming national champions in a historic season, Delpit struggled in numerous areas of his game.
Most notably? His tackling. Delpit’s success in run support suffered greatly, as the LSU prospect struggled with physicality and with making tackles in space. That became very apparent all season long.
Against Texas early on in the season, Delpit was trucked by 5-foot-10, 200-pound receiver Devin Duvernay. Duvernay is known for his electric speed and game-breaking ability from the slot, but certainly not for his power and running over defenders. Nonetheless, Delpit was blown up on the play.
Devin Duvernay RAN THROUGH Grant Delpit. pic.twitter.com/gpghzQA1QN— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 8, 2019
One play happens over the course of the season; however, Delpit consistently missed on tackles — especially in space. Week after week, tackling became a major cause of concern for the Tigers product.
LSU safety Grant Delpit has struggled all game and hasn’t looked right. Gives up a late Ole Miss score. pic.twitter.com/FNBbu3e3fR— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) November 17, 2019
Let's check in on Grant Delpit in space vs Jerry Jeudy. pic.twitter.com/QjgRjPHjUN— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 12, 2019
Missing tackles happen, especially against a talent such as Jerry Jeudy. That does not excuse Delpit’s 2019 season, though. From Dane Brugler’s pre-combine thoughts on the LSU star:
He often arrives too hot as a tackler and his overaggressive angles and poor finishing skills dent his batting average (there is no question that he was banged up in 2019 and how much that affected his production and performance is open to interpretation).
What does Delpit bring to the table that should interest the Cowboys?
As concerning as Delpit’s 2019 season was by and large, he is a playmaker in the secondary that brings a high ceiling with him — even if he has a low floor, as well, due to his tackling whiffs.
Delpit’s 2018 season is the tape that have many teams intrigued about the potential that he brings. He showcased the ability to close to the ball, blitz off of the edge, cover talented receivers well, and make plays on the ball as well as anybody at the position.
- Closing skills
Grant Delpit's 2018 season is fun to watch. Shot out of a cannon to make the play against Auburn here. pic.twitter.com/4iEMqfHFnD— Cole Patterson (@colelpatterson) March 30, 2020
Delpit had a similar play against Texas early on in the 2019 season. He read where the ball was going and reacted very quickly, making the play before it had any chance of succeeding.
Grant Delpit doing Grant Delpit things.— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick3) September 7, 2019
Barely on the screen at the time the ball was snapped and closes in a split second. pic.twitter.com/thrzDgk4j9
Here, Delpit made his move quickly and again made the play before it had any chance of getting started.
Delpit exploded here and made the tackle behind the line of scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/YHbsbibLR6— Cole Patterson (@colelpatterson) March 31, 2020
LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda knew that he had quite the talent in Delpit, and he utilized the safety in a number of ways. One of those ways was as a blitzer off of the edge. Delpit was able to effectively use his quickness to get after the quarterback and create havoc in the backfield.
Again, Delpit makes the play behind the LOS. pic.twitter.com/N3QifAwhXC— Cole Patterson (@colelpatterson) March 31, 2020
Later in the same game, the LSU safety came up huge. On a fourth down play near midfield, Delpit blitzed off of the edge and prevented quarterback Nick Fitzgerald from moving the chains. It is easy to see how effective he can be in these situations.
Grant Delpit quickly got into the backfield and wrecked havoc. pic.twitter.com/Kr6AbwHRaO— Cole Patterson (@colelpatterson) March 31, 2020
- Ball skills and range
Simply put: Grant Delpit made plays over and over again during his time at LSU. His career eight interceptions highlight that to a tee. Below, Delpit read the QB’s eyes perfectly, jumped the route, and came away with the second of his two interceptions of the game.
This is the second of his two interceptions in the game. Reads the quarterback's eyes and prevents a potential score. pic.twitter.com/MAtxoIumhI— Cole Patterson (@colelpatterson) March 31, 2020
It is easy to see how much of a playmaker Delpit is and the range that he brings to the table. Here, he nearly comes away with an interception against Florida in one of the Tigers’ biggest games of the year.
Grant Delpit flashing his range in coverage. Near INT for the All-American. pic.twitter.com/xdTH2BpoXt— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) October 13, 2019
Talk about range:
LSU true sophomore safety Grant Delpit (6’3 203) - 73 tackles, 5 sacks, 5 INTs - has raaaaaange pic.twitter.com/AVyer5hG26— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) December 3, 2018
Could the Cowboys get good value in Delpit?
It is possible. As mentioned earlier, Delpit’s stock has certainly dropped in many mock drafts as questions and concerns surrounding his tackling and effort have risen in many minds that cover the draft.
As a result, Delpit could see a slide in the draft. How big of a slide? That remains to be seen.
The Draft Network’s Joe Marino published his latest three-round mock draft. In the mock, Marino has the Cowboys going with LSU pass rusher K’Lavon Chaisson in round one. In round two? Marino sees Dallas adding a specific safety with pick 51.
Grant Delpit S, LSU
It still seems unlikely that Delpit will still be on the board after the draft’s first 50 selections. Surely some team will fall in love with his upside and grab him before too long, right? Nevertheless, it appears that there is a realistic chance that Delpit falls out of the first round.
What does that mean for the Cowboys? Adding a safety should be on the list of needs for the Cowboys. One could argue that Delpit is not the best fit alongside Xavier Woods and that the Cowboys need a safety that can get physical and make tackles in space. On the flip side, Delpit is a unique talent that oozes potential.
One option, if Dallas is indeed interested with the LSU product, is for the Cowboys to make a trade back. Reaching for Delpit at pick 17 does not seem necessary, but perhaps they can grab an extra pick and select him later in round one.
Another option is for Dallas to make a trade up for Delpit should he get into the 40’s. The Cowboys have been linked to Delpit for a while and perhaps they want to add a playmaker of his caliber to the defense.
Overall, Grant Delpit is a prospect that has his warts but also has many things to like. His junior season was hampered by injury and was less than ideal. Still, Delpit is a playmaking defensive back that has the talent to excel on the NFL level. Should Delpit slide in the draft, a team like the Cowboys could gain excellent value.