Despite criticism ahead of draft, LSU safety Grant Delpit says he can tackle NFL
The Times examines the top prospects ahead of the NFL draft, to be held April 23-25.
No set of pads can conceal the sizeable chip on the shoulder of Louisiana State safety Grant Delpit, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in college football last season despite tackling inconsistencies that plagued him throughout his college career.
“I get a lot of hate and slander from the media and the experts,” the 6-foot-2, 213-pound Delpit said at the NFL combine. “I think that’s just going to make the glory so much better in the end.
“They say tackling is definitely the thing I have to improve on. It’s all about the approach and not trying to do too much, just get them on the ground. I know I can do it. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”
The hard-hitting Delpit, who is expected to be a late first-round pick in the NFL draft, earned first-team All-American honors as a sophomore in 2018, when he racked up 74 tackles, 9½ for lost yardage, five sacks, an SEC-high five interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Delpit regressed a bit as a junior in 2019, posting 65 tackles, 4½ for loss, two sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups for the national-champion Tigers, but attributes some of his struggles to the high-ankle sprain that plagued him for about half the season.
“The ankle had a lot to do with it,” Delpit said. “I battled through injuries this year, but that’s not the whole reason. I got [my tackling issues] fixed toward the end of the season, and hopefully it won’t be a problem anymore.”
The ankle injury prevented Delpit from participating in the combine, but he said in February that he “is close to 100%.” When healthy, Delpit has the closing speed to play free safety and the physicality to play strong safety.
“I pride myself on being a very versatile player,” Delpit said. “This year, I played more free safety because that’s what the team needed. But watch my sophomore tape, my freshman tape. I played all over the box, so I think I can do it all.”
Delpit is strong against the run and has been known to punish tight ends and receivers over the middle. His tackling woes are usually caused by poor angles and lapses in technique.
“He’s learned from every [tackle] he’s missed,” LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton said. “I’ve seen him in the film room late trying to find ways to correct himself. I think that’s going to be fixed, easy.”
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Delpit is no stranger to adversity. His breakout 2018 season came after he broke his clavicle in LSU’s 2018 spring game, an injury that required surgery to insert plates and screws in the bone.
When Delpit was 7, his family was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, moving from New Orleans to Memphis and eventually settling in Houston.
“Katrina was very hard for our family,” Delpit said. “Our house was flooded, and we didn’t have flood insurance. We moved to Houston with my aunt and stayed there. My family stayed together, and we worked through it.”
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