The Atlanta Falcons traded up in the second round to select Richie Grant. They gave up picks No. 35 and No. 219 to the Denver Broncos in exchange for No. 40 and No. 114. Atlanta had a clear goal to improve the secondary and that is what they did.
Grant spent four years at UCF and totaled 10 interceptions and five forced fumbles. He built his draft stock into becoming one of the top safeties in the class and he was drafted as so. The unfortunate circumstance for Grant is that he is going to be compared to other safeties in the draft, especially Trevon Moehrig.
When the Falcons initially traded up, it was assumed that they would be taking Moehrig with their selection. They threw a curveball and drafted Grant instead. Moehrig was taken three picks later by the Las Vegas Raiders. Whether it is fair or not, players are always compared to those at the same position, especially when they are drafted so close together. Atlanta also passed on Jamar Johnson and Elijah Molden to select Grant.
With that being said, the Falcons clearly saw something in the UCF product. The initial thing to expect from Grant is his ability to make plays on the ball. He is a safety that is known as a ball hawk and a hard-hitter. He can play both free and strong safety which gives the Falcons some versatility to mess around with. This is needed after the Falcons went through an overhaul at the position.
All three starters from 2020 are no longer on the roster. The Falcons added veteran options like Duron Harmon and Erik Harris. There is some depth in the secondary for Atlanta and Grant adds to it.
Whether you like the pick or believe they should have taken Moehrig, the Falcons clearly have a plan. With a player like Grant, they can put him at either safety position or even have him cover a slot receiver. He can come up in the run game and attack the ball carrier. There are some safeties in today’s NFL that have put up some big-time numbers and that is what Grant could accomplish.
Grant’s ability to make plays on the ball is something that will transfer well. It is not crazy to see Grant logging at least three interceptions, four forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries. He is around the ball a lot over the course of a game. He will log a ton of tackles and put himself up there with the other rookie safeties. A player entering with a chip on his shoulder cannot be taken lightly and Grant could do this after hearing about being drafted before other safeties.
The Falcons have struggled on the defensive side of the ball for awhile now. They have been inconsistent in the secondary and the addition of Richie Grant is supposed to add some. It will be interesting to see how they use him and the many different aspects that he brings to the table.