The NFL draft is football's version of Christmas. Teams do their best to provide their organization with the best toys that are available. After arguably the worst defense in their franchise's history in 2020, the Cowboys will be looking for presents in the form of defensive players in late April.
One of the prime positions the Cowboys will be trying to add to their roster is safety. Donovan Wilson's aggressiveness and playmaking ability make him the lead dog at the strong safety spot. However, the departure of Xavier Woods to the Minnesota Vikings created a vacancy at free safety. The Cowboys added Damontae Kazee to bolster that area but it was only on a one-year deal.
With that being said, the Cowboys have a shot to add another starting safety for the future early in the draft, and UCF's Richie Grant is a prime candidate for a Day 2 steal.
Grant was a two-star recruit out of the state of Florida where he ran track, and in addition to playing defensive back, he also played wide receiver. The multi-talented athlete redshirted in 2016 and was a part of the Golden Knights rotation in their defensive backfield a year later.
In 2018, Grant was named a starter, and he took full advantage. He amassed an unreal 108 tackles, six interceptions, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. His redshirt junior year was excellent as well as he registered 78 tackles, an interception, eight pass breakups, a forced fumble, and one defensive touchdown. He ended his collegiate career on a high note with 72 tackles, three interceptions, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a sack.
Grant was named First-Team All-AAC (American Athletic Conference) from 2018 to 2020.
Must remind everyone @UCF_Football DB Richie Grant is a safety by trade, not a corner. Numerous reps like this one where @rgrant1525 blankets WR during Senior Bowl week. Probably the best finisher in this year's game. There's a reason why he's a hot guy in the league right now.🔥 pic.twitter.com/j2iGGRxOcJ
So as you can see, the production is there. However, the most exciting trait about Grant is his versatility. Not only is he excellent in single-high or two-deep safety looks but he can also provide man coverage in the slot and play near the line of scrimmage as a box safety, much like the aforementioned Wilson. This is an ideal skill set for Dan Quinn's Cover 1/Cover 3 scheme.
Grant's best spot is playing deep as a centerfielder. He has fantastic range which allows him to read quarterbacks and make plays sideline to sideline. He's also a beast in run support as evident by his 90.0 run-defense grade which was the highest for all safeties in 2020 according to Pro Football Focus.
Have heard from multiple teams that Richie Grant looked great during DB drills at @UCF_Football pro-day. Put on a show with his ball skills. Grant is the top do-it-all safety in the class.
Checking in at #53 Overall on the XTB NFL Draft Guide Big Board, and the 3rd Safety in our rankings, UCF's Richie Grant is a player you need to be fully aware of. @MHolder95 continues his 220 Scouting
Our full Guide is only $12 and is absolutely loaded -> https://t.co/A3vKGJ41jk pic.twitter.com/dxgYuWri4p
If the Cowboys were to snag him in the second round he could be in a situation where he would have to sit back and learn behind a veteran like Kazee for a year. That's not a guarantee though, as his unique skills might push him into the starting lineup as a rookie. Whatever the case may be, Grant would give the Cowboys another young and promising talent at the safety position to pair with Wilson for the foreseeable future.
Pro Day Numbers
40-yard dash: 4.53
Vertical Jump: 34.5 inches
Broad Jump: 10'9″
Bench Press/225 pounds: 12 reps
Grant's excellent Pro Day has positioned him to be taken off the board fairly early in the draft, possibly late in the first round. With that being said, if he's there at 44 in the second round, the Cowboys shouldn't hesitate to put a star on his helmet.