There are not a lot of meaningful conclusions that you can reach about a player after the end of his first season, but that certainly doesn’t stop people from talking about it. You can find just about any variety of analysis that you would care to read if you just look for it, complete with bold letter grades.
I’m not going to do that. But I am going to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers’s 2015 NFL Draft class, both collectively, in this article, as was as individually, in succeeding articles.
While the tides have slowly turned in Pittsburgh regarding rookie players being held back in terms of playing time in recent years, the 2015 class outside of their first-round pick did not get a lot of burn during the year, but that shouldn’t be terribly surprising in hindsight.
The Steelers entered the draft process this year with eight draft picks, including the seven natural draft picks in each round, in addition to a compensatory draft pick in the sixth round, in addition to some notable undrafted free agent acquisitions.
Player: Doran Grant
Draft Status: 4th round (121st overall)
While many Steelers fans may not have been thrilled about the team’s choice of cornerback in the second round, they were very happy to see them double dip back into the position in the fourth round, and were rather pleased that that second player was Doran Grant, who intercepted five passes for the national champion Ohio State team in his final collegiate season.
Though not of ideal height, Grant is a strong, physical cornerback who prides himself on his ability to tackle, and he has more than enough speed to get the job done. He also comes with the potential of being a versatile defensive back outside, in the slot, or even possibly at safety, which is an option that the team is weighing heading into next season.
Grant saw a fair amount of playing time during the preseason, registering eight tackles and a pass defensed, officially. He put out some good tape, but he also made some schematic errors, one leading to a touchdown from what I can recall, that got himself an on-field lesson from a veteran teammate.
The rookie made the initial 53-man roster, as the sixth cornerback it would turn out, as the Steelers also signed Ross Cockrell to the roster, but Grant was released a day later to make room for an extra running back and defensive lineman, rather than an 11th defensive back.
He cleared waivers and was placed on the practice squad, where he remained for about half of the regular season. He was called up after eight games, but he still spent most of the season on the inactive list, getting a helmet in only three games. He did not participate on special teams much, even, though he managed to see one defensive snap.
Many were disappointed with the development of Grant’s rookie season, but outside of the fact that he was a fourth-round pick that spent half the year on the practice squad, there really wasn’t too much out of the ordinary for him.
He was the least experienced cornerback on the roster, the only rookie, and he showed on tape that he was making a mistake here and there in the scheme, so the Steelers hedged their bets and figured they could stash him away until he was ready. That should not be read into his future ability to be a contributor to the defense.