As we delve further into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has begun to shift towards the draft. Like we’ve done all throughout the offseason, these reports will cover the prospects of the 2015 NFL Draft, placing an emphasis on those who could help the Steelers the most.
Steelers fans have been banging on the table for cornerbacks who can actually contribute in games and fulfill a contract. Here is a National Champion cornerback: Doran Grant.
#12 – Doran Grant/ CB Ohio State: 5102, 200lbs
-Sheds blockers to be a force in run support
-Great cover corner, could play man or zone in any scheme
-Reliable tackler, uses good form
-Reads QB well, reacts fast
-Keeps himself in position to make plays on the ball
-High football IQ
-Senses routes quickly, not fooled often
-Great closing speed
-Gives too much cushion at times
-Needs some work on his footwork
-Needs a better understanding of when he has safety help
-Because of his size, he has trouble with bigger targets
-Lacks speed to keep up with true vertical threats
-Allows too much separation at times, has trouble on crossing routes as well as comeback routes
-Winner of Iron Buckeye Award, which is given to the student-athlete who best exemplifies unquestionable physical training dedication, determination, discipline, toughness and leadership
-30 starts in 54 career games played
-Majored in sociology
-First-team All-Big Ten in 2014
-4.44 40-yard dash
-21 reps of 225 on bench
-110 solo career tackles, 4 for loss
-9 career interceptions, 21 passes defended
-4 year letter winner
-Team Defensive Captain in 2014
Grant is a solid athlete who displays a combination of physicality and high football IQ on every down. He is not contact shy is willing to be a contributor in the run game. Grant must work on not letting receivers separate too much since he lacks long speed. He has minor technique flaws that will need refinement but that should not be a determining factor.
One great aspect of Grant’s game is his tackling. Its man coverage here and right when the ball is thrown Grant closes in. He single-handedly takes down the tight end with a great form tackle.
This may be a scheme issue but Grant really gives his receivers a lot of cushion. In the first GIF, it is 3rd and 3 and Grant is 8 yards off of the line of scrimmage, too much. Receiver catches a quick pass for the first down, but a sure tackle. In the second GIF he gives too much cushion again, and the receiver is able to get the 8 yard first down and more. In the NFL, if he gives up these quick passes and doesn’t make the tackle, you’re talking about explosive plays – which killed the Steelers last season. Grant is a sure tackler, though.
There is no question, Grant is a physical cornerback. He loves to rip through potential blockers to come up and make a play. Whether it is a screen or a running play, Grant looks to be physical and make the tackle. A screen and running play demonstrated here:
Because of his size, Grant sometimes has trouble with bigger receiving targets. They have range that Grant cannot reach, which is the case here. Top tight end Maxx Williams runs a seam route and just out-positions Grant to make a great catch. He needs to look back at the ball and get his left and in the way, just couldn’t keep up here.
Excellent concentration and ability to be in position to intercept this ball in the first GIF. (Look at the hit #23 laid down too) A tipped ball and Grant was in perfect position to pick it off
In the second GIF: another demonstration of being in perfect position to intercept a pass. He was in the wide receiver’s pocket, the receiver slipped and he takes the ball to the house for a pick six. It was falsely called pass interference but the receiver slipped, not Grant’s fault.
Grant is covering arguably the top wide receiver in the country in Amari Cooper, but that is no excuse. Cooper turns Grant around and gets the best of him, scoring easily. Grant got too ahead of himself and committed to the crossing route, but Cooper broke it outside.
Grant is lined up against Williams again but Grant wins this time. Grant knows Williams won’t run by him so he doesn’t give Williams much space. He reads the eyes of the quarterback and reacts quickly to the ball being thrown. Great pass breakup.
Aside from his height, Grant is everything the Steelers want in a cornerback. He is physical, athletic, a great run defender, a leader and a high character guy. He has a lot of experience and has contributed since his freshman year. The former high school wide receiver shows his hands often and doesn’t drop interceptions.
He was also the winner of the strength coach Mickey Marotti’s Iron Buckeye Award, which is given to the student-athlete who best exemplifies unquestionable physical training dedication, determination, discipline, toughness and leadership. A leader who is also a weight-room warrior? Sounds like a Steeler to me. Carnell Lake could really add some refinement to his game and he should be able to contribute on special teams early to earn his spot on the roster. Grant would likely be a slot corner who could give some quality snaps outside if needed. Some say that he should transition to safety, which wouldn’t be totally out of the question. He has the tools to do whatever Mike Tomlin and company asks him to do, and at a decently high level.
I would draft Grant as my second cornerback in the draft if I am pulling the trigger. I don’t see Tomlin and Kevin Colbert drafting a slot corner before an outside one. Grant could play outside, though as he is the same size as fellow cornerback William Gay.
Tomlin and Colbert both attended Ohio State’s Pro Day and Grant is said to be in Pittsburgh for a visit sometime before the NFL Draft.
Projection: 3rd – 4th round
Grade: 4th round
Games Watched: 2014 vs. Cincinnati, 2014 at Minnesota, 2014 vs. Alabama (Sugar Bowl Playoff)
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