The Atlanta Falcons took a versatile starting safety after a trade down to No. 40 overall with the selection of Richie Grant from the University of Central Florida. He profiles well to a starting safety role in Dean Pees’ defense and should fit in perfectly in the locker room. Atlanta got a first-round value at the top of the second round.
Athletic Testing and Athletic Comparison
Stats and Awards
2020: 9 Games Played, 72 Tackles, 3.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 1 QB Hurry, 3 Interceptions, 2 Fumbles Forced, 6 Pass Deflections, First-Team All-AAC
2019: 13 Games Played, 78 Tackles, 4.0 Tackles for Loss, 1 Interception, 8 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown, First-Team All-AAC
2018: 13 Games Played, 109 Tackles, 3.0 Tackles for Loss, 6 Interceptions, 3 Fumbles Forced, 3 Pass Deflections, 1 Punt Return, 13 Yards, First-Team All-AAC
2017: 13 Games Played, 32 Tackles, 1.0 Tackle for Loss, 1 Fumble Forced, 2 Pass Deflections, 4 Kick Returns, 75 Yards
Highlights vs. Cincinnati
How does Grant fit on the field?
Richie Grant can do it all. He’s a deep-third safety who can win with instincts and athleticism while aligned deep. He makes all the calls and has the on-field leadership the Falcons lost when Ricardo Allen left. He reads offenses well and understands his keys even pre-snap. His range is unmatched in the draft and the Falcons can use him at either free or strong safety.
Grant is one of the best tacklers in the draft, and as long as his angles are good, he can take down anyone. He’s also able to stick guys the way Keanu Neal used to. He’s a true all-around safety who can also blitz from the third level if he is told to. He has great special teams potential with how he’s willing to run downfield and smack someone.
How does Grant fit off the field?
The Falcons are missing leadership and competitiveness in the back end of the defense. Grant brings that in spades. He’s aggressive when he hits people. He’s ornery when he goes after the ball. Grant plays the game with a level of aggression and is someone who’s going to get after it, make all the calls, and be that third-level leader the Falcons need.
Why Grant instead of Azeez Ojulari or Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah?
Atlanta has guys who can rotate in for the pass rush, and Owusu-Koramoah has some issues with fit in an NFL scheme. Grant is a perfect fit for Dean Pees’ scheme, so the Falcons taking the Golden Knight just made too much sense. Grant was the best scheme fit for the Falcons’ defense in the 2021 draft much like how Keanu Neal was the best in 2016.
NFL Stylistic Comparison/Best Case Scenario: Brian Dawkins
Richie Grant’s game and playing style reminded me so much of Brian Dawkins. I know that’s a lofty comp, but I couldn’t get away from it. #Falcons got a legit DUDE
— Emory Hunt (@FBallGameplan) April 30, 2021
This is a comparison that’s coming from Football Gameplan and CBS Sports’ Emory Hunt. And honestly, it’s tough to argue with. Grant will bring toughness, leadership, and intelligence to a Falcons defense that is losing a lot of all three with the losses of Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen. This gives them a true long-term answer at the safety position.