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Why Grant Delpit is the next LSU defender Bucs fans should know

The IMG Academy product will be the Derwin James of the 2020 NFL draft.
In this Sept. 29, 2018, file photo, LSU safety Grant Delpit (9) celebrates his sack of Mississippi quarterback Jordan Ta'amu during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
In this Sept. 29, 2018, file photo, LSU safety Grant Delpit (9) celebrates his sack of Mississippi quarterback Jordan Ta'amu during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
Published Jul. 20, 2019

HOOVER, Ala. — Bucs fans know all about the recent stream of LSU defensive stars into the NFL.

Tampa Bay has drafted three of them in the last five years (Kwon Alexander, Kendell Beckwith and No. 5 overall pick Devin White). The Bucs looked at Tyrann Mathieu as a free agent and probably had interest in trading for Patrick Peterson, although neither move materialized.

This year’s Tigers have another standout on the way — one who’s putting up numbers unmatched by his LSU predecessors and should draw the attention of the Bucs and every other NFL team in the coming months.

Do-it-all defender Grant Delpit.

“I think Grant Delpit is the best defensive player in the country coming back this year,” Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said.

Related: RELATED: LSU football is still raving about Bucs rookie Devin White

Yes, Orgeron is biased. But he’s also right. Few players in recent history have had the skillset of the 6-foot-3, 203-pound Delpit.

As a true sophomore, the IMG Academy product led the SEC with five interceptions while recording five sacks. Only one other SEC player has matched that stat line in the last decade: Robinson High alumnus Javier Arenas, who did so during Alabama’s 2009 perfect season.

Those numbers made Delpit the ninth unanimous All-American in LSU’s storied history. He won the Jack Tatum Award as the top defensive back and earned the right to wear LSU’s prestigious No. 7 like Peterson and Mathieu.

“In high school, I’m watching Tyrann highlights, making crazy plays…” Delpit said at SEC media days. “I’m envisioning myself doing that.”

LSU defensive back Grant Delpit talks with reporters during SEC media days in Hoover, Ala. [ MATT BAKER | Times ]

And now he’s doing it — and more.

Mathieu finished his LSU career with only four career interceptions; Delpit already has six.

But like the Honey Badger, Delpit’s biggest strength is his versatility, which leads to unique numbers: 74 tackles (9 ½ for a loss), nine pass breakups, four quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Delpit fills the box score by moving around the field. He spent some of last season roaming deep as a traditional safety or covering a receiver. Then he’d move up to linebacker alongside White. Or creep up to the line of scrimmage to blitz off the edge or thwart a fake field goal.

Related: RELATED: What LSU coach Ed Orgeron liked most about Bucs rookie Devin White

“Anywhere coach puts me, I’m going to make the play…” Delpit said. “Anywhere on the field, I got you.”

Delpit can get you from anywhere because he’s big and strong enough to handle offensive linemen, quick enough to close ground on receivers and smart enough to juggle the responsibilities that come with playing multiple positions.

If that sounds a lot like another recent safety prospect from a school the Bucs know well, it should.

Florida State's Derwin James was a do-it-all NFL talent the Bucs passed on. [ MONICA HERNDON | Times ]

“I talk to Derwin a lot,” Delpit said.

The Bucs liked Derwin James when he came out of Florida State and had the chance to draft him in 2018. They picked Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea instead.

Vea finished his first season with 28 tackles and three sacks in 13 games. James was an All-Pro for the Chargers.

Related: RELATED: Will Derwin James be the one that got away from Bucs?

“That’s definitely a guy I try to watch his film, try to model my game after,” Delpit said of James. “He’s a hard hitter, but at the same time, he’s a ball hawk.”

So is Delpit, which is why he’s high on way-too-early mock drafts. ESPN analyst Todd McShay had him No. 3 in his first mock draft. His colleague, Mel Kiper Jr., ranked Delpit as the No. 2 draft-eligible prospect.

Delpit can fortify those expectations and add to his accolades this season as the focal point of the top secondary in the nation and the best Orgeron has ever coached. Expect it to be his final audition before leaving early as LSU’s latest NFL-bound defensive star.

LSU safety Grant Delpit (9) tries to sack Mississippi quarterback Jordan Ta'amu (10) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“It’s going to be great, because I feel like I can fit into the defense wherever they need me to,” Delpit said. “In the box, covering, on the line, rushing off the edge. Anything a defensive coordinator has in mind, I can do.”

Related: READ MORE: Florida Gators’ Feleipe Franks is already an MLB draftee. What about NFL?


  1. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow holds the national championship trophy as safety Grant Delpit looks on after the Tigers beat Clemson 42-25 on Jan. 13 in New Orleans. [GERALD HERBERT  |  AP]
    The LSU Tigers faced five top-seven defenses, averaging 38 points against them.
  2. Coach Mike White has Florida come off a big home win over Auburn on Saturday and lose 84-82 at LSU three days later. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Video review shows time ran out just before Florida’s tying layup.
  3. Florida head coach Dan Mullen celebrates after the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game against Virginia, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Florida won 36-28. [BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP]
    Defensive tackle signee Gervon Dexter has earned his fifth star.
  4. Florida forward Omar Payne (5) runs up court after making a shot against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. Payne was a perfect 9 for 9 shooting during the game. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Previewing the Gators’ 7 p.m game at LSU on Tuesday.
  5. IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR ALLSTATE - Tim Tebow and fiancé Demi Nel-Peters volunteer together alongside Allstate volunteers at a community service project to benefit the Einstein Charter School ahead of the 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in New Orleans. (Cheryl Gerber/AP Images for Allstate) [CHERYL GERBER  |  AP]
    The former quarterback and current Mets minor leaguer previously said he planned to remain a virgin until marriage.
  6. Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen (41) takes aim for Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) during a 2018 game. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The grad transfer will be eligible immediately.
  7. Auburn center Austin Wiley guards Florida forward Omar Payne during the first half of their game on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Gainesville. Payne, a freshman out of Montverde Academy, finishes with a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds for his first double double in college. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Freshman Omar Payne has a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds as UF earns its most impressive victory of the season.
  8. Florida's Keyontae Johnson, shown here scoring against Arkansas in last season's SEC tournament, is averaging 13 points and 6.8 rebounds this season. [MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP]
    UF looks for an elite win Saturday at home, where it has won five in row, to help strengthen its NCAA Tournament resume.
  9. Florida guard Andrew Nembhard shoots over Mississippi guard Devontae Shuler during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Gainesville. [BRAD MCCLENNY  |  AP]
    Coach Mike White says his point guard missed practice Thursday and Friday. If he’s out, freshmen Tre Mann or Ques Glover likely will start Saturday.
  10. Todd Monken spent two seasons in Tampa Bay, the last as offensive coordinator, before being dismissed along with the rest of head coach Dirk Koetter's staff after the 2018 season.
    Tampa Bay’s former play-caller will be designing game plans for the Bulldogs against the Florida Gators next season.