1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Gators

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)
Published Jul. 20

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: 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: 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: 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.”

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


  1. Florida guard Ques Glover tries to drive on Butler forward Bryce Golden during the first half in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. MICHAEL CONROY  |  AP
    UF sees its four-game winning streak come to an end on the road.
  2. Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin celebrates his team's final touchdown in its victory over UAB in the Conference USA championship game on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Boca Raton. MIKE STOCKER  |  AP
    After leading the Owls to victory in the Conference USA title game on Saturday, the coach announces he’s leaving for the Rebels.
  3. Florida Gators defensive back CJ Henderson wags his finger after breaking up a pass during a game against Miami in August at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Henderson is forgoing his senior season, entering the NFL draft and skipping the team’s bowl game. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Henderson’s elite speed could help his draft stock. His interview skills could be another story.
  4. In this 2007 file photo, coach Billy Donovan cuts down the net after Florida defeated South Carolina to win at least a share of the SEC regular-season championship. BRIAN CASSELLA  |  St. Petersburg Times
    The formal introduction will take place on Feb. 15.
  5. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers face Georgia in the SEC Championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta. MATTHEW HINTON  |  AP
    Here are our picks for this week’s conference championships.
  6. Florida's Kerry Blackshear drives on Xavier's Jason Carter during the second half of the Charleston Classic title game on Nov. 24, 2019, in Charleston, S.C. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    UF goes on the road Saturday in hopes of extending its four-game winning streak, but it faces a tough test in Indianapolis.
  7. Memphis head coach Mike Norvell runs onto the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against USF on Nov. 23. CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP
    Mike Norvell and Jim McElwain are coaches to watch this weekend. And who should the Florida Gators want to win?
  8. Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) catches a 13-yard touchdown pass in front of Florida State defensive back Levonta Taylor (1) during last weekend's rivalry tilt. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    The Gators appear destined for a New Year’s Six bowl game.
  9. Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan looks for room against Florida in this undated photo. He went on to become the Tigers' first Heisman Trophy winner, earning the honor in 1971. Times files
    The College Football Hall of Fame quarterback who went on to coach TCU and Samford had battled throat cancer.
  10. Alabama head coach Nick Saban reacts to a personal foul call during the second half of Alabama's 48-45 loss at Auburn Saturday. BUTCH DILL  |  AP
    College football rankings: The last time the Crimson Tide finished a season outside the top five was 2013.