Richie Grant is already a success story. As a two-star athlete coming out of Mississippi, Central Florida was Grant’s only FBS offer. He definitely took that offer and ran with it. After playing sparingly as a redshirt freshman, Grant earned a starting spot heading into the 2018 season and finished the year with 108 tackles, three tackles for loss, six picks, three passes defensed, a fumble recovery, and two forced fumbles.
That certainly marked Grant’s entrance onto the college football scene, and it proved to be his most gaudy statistical season, as quarterbacks started to avoid him. In 2019, Grant totaled 78 tackles, four of them for a loss, to go along with one pick, eight passes defensed, and a forced fumble.
His equally impressive 2020 season made it three consecutive years earning his conference’s first team honors. As a result, Grant has propelled himself towards the NFL, where he currently figures to be a second- or third-round prospect and arguably the second best safety in this class.
Name: Richie Grant
Weight: 194 lbs
2020 Stats: 9 games, 72 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 interceptions, 5 passes defensed, 2 fumble recoveries. 2 forced fumbles
Coverage Style: One of the most intriguing aspects about Grant is how versatile his coverage style is. At UCF, Grant did a little bit of everything. He played in single high, split safety, quarters, and moved into the box for a variety of different roles, including as a blitzer. He had varying success in all of those roles, with his best tape showing up when Grant was allowed to sit back and read the quarterback’s eyes, but his skill set allows him to play anywhere.
Coverage Skills: As mentioned, Grant is at his best when sitting back and reading the field. He has the range to cover a lot of field in a short amount of time, which has brought him a lot of success in split and single-high safety shells. Grant offers teams some versatility elsewhere but his go-to place should be back deep, and he would be an especially good fit in the centerfield safety role Dan Quinn’s defense craves.
Playmaking Ability: Grant split time between receiver and safety in high school, and you can definitely see he still has some of those traits when the ball is in the air. He attacks the ball as if it is his, and he works hard to get in position to make the catch. When he can’t, Grant does a good job of using his length and positioning to still break up the pass. He has a true nose for the ball, an essential trait to be a free safety in single-high schemes.
Athleticism: In addition to football, he was a track star in high school, and it’s easy to see why. When he guns downhill, he flies in like a shot out of a cannon, and he’s got great sideline-to-sideline movement, thus underscoring his ability to be left alone in the middle in Cover 1 shells.
Run Support: Grant is a really, really good run defender when he’s coming from deep, but he struggled a lot when he was in the box. He’s got the speed and tenacity to navigate the alley and find the ball-carrier, but when he’s tasked with playing in a tighter space, his issues with vision and block shedding come into play. But he’s a strong tackler who comes up with aggression, and far from a liability.
Processing: He is much more of a guy who relies on his athleticism and guesswork than someone who has great vision and instincts. This can get him into trouble, as it has against better quarterbacks in the past, but it’s only a problem the closer he is to the line of scrimmage. When Grant is playing deeper, he seems to be more comfortable mentally.
Toughness: Grant gives Donovan Wilson flashbacks with the way he plays. He plays with the kind of chip on his shoulder you’d expect from a guy who only got one FBS offer. He flies around with violence and puts full effort into everything. He doesn’t take a play off, and at times needs to tone it down a notch or two. It hasn’t gotten him into trouble the way it has for Wilson, but Grant is definitely a safety who cherishes the physical nature of the sport.
Intangibles: After his breakout first season starting at UCF, Grant blossomed into a vocal leader for the secondary. His aggressive style of play was a big part of that too, as he frequently seemed to inspire the rest of his teammates with big hits or takeaways.