2015 NFL Draft: Steelers Select CB Doran Grant


In the 4th round of the NFL draft the Steelers have selected Doran Grant, cornerback out of OSU with 121st overall pick. So the Steelers did end up double-dipping at cornerback as many had suspected they would. Frankly, its a relief to be addressing needs again after a brief and unnecessary 3rd pick on a wide receiver.

As far as physical tools go Doran Grant stands 5’10” weighing 200 pounds. Like Golson before him, he’s a little shorter than the typical Steelers cornerback. This is perhaps a reflection of Kieth Butler’s new influence and is perhaps some indication of how he’ll run the defense differently than Dick Lebeau. Rather than tall corners who can push receivers around, the Steelers seem to be focusing on short guys with ball skills.

In drills Grant particularly stood out in straight line speed and strength. He ran a 4.44 40 yard dash and did 21 reps on the bench. On the other hand, his speed in changing directions was less impressive and his vertical and broad jump numbers do little overcome height concerns.

He’ll probably start out playing corner in the slot in the nickel or dime package. He’s not afraid to tackle and can get down the field so he’ll certainly see some special teams play if he makes it out of the practice squad his rookie year.

In the long run, there’s a good chance Grant will be moved to safety eventually simply because in the NFL game his assets lend themselves to safety play and his weaknesses are less important there relative to corner.

He’s a smart player with good instincts who can make reads on plays. Grant is a good hitter who is not afraid to sprint to the line of scrimmage once he diagnoses a run or screen pass. Grant has solid ball skills too which would help a safety position that hasn’t produced too many interception over the past two years. Grant was All Big-Ten last year with 5 interceptions, more than all of the Steelers safeties last year.

On the other hand, he’s less impressive in one on one coverage. He could improve his ability to stay in step with a receiver and despite solid speed is a risk to get beat by the deep ball. Overall, his height and limited jumping ability would make it difficult for him to cover the tall receivers so prevalent in today’s NFL.

Besides the double-dip in the secondary theme this represents it also is another in a multi-year Steelers draft tendency of picking players from OSU. It’s been argued that the Steelers preference for OSU players has not payed dividends thus far outside of Cam Heyward.

However, this is of course debatable. OSU is right next door so the Steelers front office is presumably more familiar with these players relative to those from say an SEC school for example.

Outside of special teams it’s unlikely this will be an instant impact type of pick but due to our troubles at cornerback it is perfectly reasonable that Grant could see some defensive snaps in the 2015 season. He’s got the skill set to contribute in nickel and dime packages on the inside, particularly in zone coverage. In the long run however Grant will likely be moved to safety.

Overall, it’s a solid pick. It fills a need with a smart, tough player. It provides immediate help on special teams and in 3 or 4 cornerback sets in the short run. In the long run it gives the Steelers a young player to groom for a safety spot. A position which, if not for the glaring holes the Steelers had at corner and OLB, would likely have been considered a big need for the Steelers.

It’s a smart, conservative pick that potentially addresses a few needs over several years. It’s tempting to think short term when the Steelers defensive needs are so immediate. This pick managed to address both a short term and long term issue, and with a player some projected as going in the 3rd round.

Grade: B

Next: Steelers Select Sammy Coates: Instant Reaction

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