The Bengals will be headed into a new era with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow leading the offense. Is there a chance they add an LSU defender to help the other side of the ball as well? Safety Grant Delpit, 2019 Jim Thorpe Award winner, could slide to the Bengals in the second round. Is he tempting enough of a prospect for Cincinnati to double down on Tigers, though?
Weight: 213 pounds
Projected Round: Late First/Early Second
Delpit’s 2019 wasn’t what many would expect to see after he had an incredible 2018. It did show off his toughness as he played through an ankle injury at the end of the season, but the disconnect still raises some questions.
The young safety does somethings very well, and he just can’t be ignored on some plays. He does a great job on flying in on run support or even chasing down wide receiver screens on the boundary. His physicality may be his biggest selling point at the next level as he isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder or mix it up with the big guys. He spent plenty of time lining up in the box at LSU, which may be more of the norm for him in the NFL. His flash plays are things of beauty. When he is able to burst through the line of scrimmage, he usually hits his mark.
The problems with Delpit are his inconsistencies. There are times he misses what seem to be easy tackles. Part of the reason is he goes for the big hit without wrapping up, which you can rarely get away with in the NFL. He has also had a few easy drops on plays, and there are time you wish he was just a hair quicker on his breaks. His range may not be able to get it done at the next level either as a single high safety.
Delpit has the build and athleticism to possibly become a very versatile safety in the NFL. How quickly he is able to adjust to the NFL and polish off his skill set will determine if he is just a solid player or a play maker.
How he would fit with the Bengals
Cincinnati and Delpit would’ve been a perfect match back in early March. Before signing Vonn Bell, getting a versatile safety to pair with Jessie Bates III for the long-term was just an idea. Now it’s a reality and the safety room appears a bit crowded at the moment.
Even with Bell in the fold, Delpit would likely be responsible with playing up near the line of scrimmage more often than not. He could also be tasked with some responsibilities as a nickel defender along with newly signed Mackensie Alexander. Delpit could bring a lot of the same physicality that Darqueze Dennard did as one of the league’s best tacklers at that position. Delpit is reliable in coverage when lining up in the box, and he also has some real upside as a blitzer as well.
Delpit is far from a fully polished prospect, but he has plenty of talent to be a solid contributor his rookie season. As the draft inches closer and closer, Delpit appears to be a near-lock to go somewhere in the first round. If he slips through Thursday night, the Bengals will have to decide whether they truly believe Delpit can become an effective counter to the NFL’s biggest mismatches.