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2021 NFL Draft profile: Could Richie Grant force Dolphins to return Bobby McCain to cornerback?

Gasparilla Bowl UCF beats Marshall 48-25 Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The NFL Draft is about 24 hours away. We have been putting together profiles of some of the top prospects coming out this year, trying to find players who could be on the Miami Dolphins’ big board.

We continue our draft profiles this evening, taking a look at the measurables, what analysts are saying, and the fit in with the Dolphins for another of the potential draft targets. Could Miami look to shore up the secondary with a second-day pick at safety?

Next up on the list, UCF safety Richie Grant:

College Career

Career: 46 games, 290 tackles, 1 sack, 17 passes defensed, 10 INTs, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries

  • Freshman (2016, UCF): Redshirt
  • Redshirt Freshman (2017, UCF): 12 games, 32 tackles, 1 pass defensed, 1 fumble recovery
  • Redshirt Sophomore (2018, UCF): 13 games, 108 tackles, 3 passes defensed, 6 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
  • Redshirt Junior (2019, UCF): 12 games, 78 tackles, 8 passes defensed, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble
  • Redshirt Senior (2020, UCF): 9 games, 72 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 5 passes defensed, 3 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, TD

Measurements

From UCF pro day:

Height: 5’ 11-5/8”
Weight: 197 lbs
Arm Length: 32-5/8”
Hand size: 9-3/8”

Spider Chart (via MockDraftable.com)

Combine-style testing

From UCF pro day:

Bench Press: 12
Vertical: 34-1/2”
Broad jump: 10’ 9”
40-yard dash: 4.49
20-yard shuttle: 4.27 sec
3-cone drill: 6.78 sec

What the are saying

Luke Sarris, Black and Gold Banneret - The biggest pro about Grant is his versatility. Throughout his three years as a starter at UCF, he’s shown his ability to play deep, in the box, in the slot, and essentially anywhere on the field. He’s an aggressive player that is considered the best safety in terms of run support in this year’s draft class. With 10 career interceptions, there’s no doubt about his ball hawking skills either. Grant’s measurables are the only real con you can point out when evaluating him as a prospect but they’re not really cons at all. His 4.53 40 time isn’t far off from Trevon Moehrig’s 4.50 and slightly faster than Jamar Johnson’s 4.58. While Grant comes in a few inches shorter than both Moehrig and Johnson, Grant’s vertical was 1.5” higher than Moehrig and just half an inch below Johnson. Considered the top three safeties in this class, they all posted very similar results during their pro days.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com - Grant offers versatility to play deep or down safety and has decent man-cover ability against matchup tight ends. He’s at his best as a high safety, where he has an overview of the field. He can key quarterbacks and use his ballhawking tendencies to force turnovers. His play as a down safety was marked with bouts of coverage confusion from bunch sets and occasional busts. He’s a willing, physical tackler but just average when asked to do it in the open field as a last line of defense. Grant’s size and length were on full display at the Senior Bowl, where he put together a strong week. He followed that up with a good pro day workout. He has been a fast riser up the boards and should go on Day 2.

Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network - Grant is a solid safety in all aspects of the position and is effective in covering the pass or defending the run. He comes with average size as well as speed, but he could line up in dime packages or as a traditional strong safety. Grant also comes with a special-teams mentality, which is added value.

ESPN.com - Grant is undersized with good length and average top-end speed. He shows good route recognition, and he’s quick to trigger when he’s breaking on routes in front of him. He has average recovery speed, and he’s not a center fielder. Grant reads the quarterback and plays the ball, not the man. He doesn’t catch everything he gets his hands on, but his production speaks for itself. He tracks the ball and times his jumps well. Grant is also an above-average tackler and a tough run-stopper who does not shy away from contact.

Dolphins fit

Grant is a hard one to analyze. He does a lot of things well, but he is not a perfect fit in any specific position. Some analysts see him as a strong safety, while others see him as a free safety, playing deep as a center fielder type. I feel like he is best over the top in a zone. If Miami were to add him in the second round, they could put him at free safety, then move Bobby McCain back to nickel cornerback, filling that role for the defense as well. Grant has the ability to step up and play in the box as well, so Miami could continue to use their amoeba defense and not give away where Grant is playing. He has some experience playing nickel cornerback, but he is not going to keep up with a speedy receiver so that may not work for him at the NFL level. If Miami is going to look for a safety this year, Grant would be a guy who makes sense on the second day, but he is not a player who Miami has to find a way to select.