The Atlanta Falcons kicked off round two by trading back with the Denver Broncos from the No. 35 slot to No. 40 overall. The team crossed off a huge defensive need by drafting UCF safety Richie Grant.
All three of the Falcons starting safeties in 2020 found new homes should Grant step in and make an immediate impact.
The former Knight is set to play free safety.
From @UCF_Football to 🅰️TL.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) May 1, 2021
In four seasons, Grant tallied 290 tackles, 17 pass deflections, and five forced fumbles.
The Falcons free safety depth currently looks like No.1 Erik Harris, No. 2 Grant, and No. 3 T.J. Green.
“Thank you God! What a surreal moment getting that call,” Grant posted on his Twitter account. “Atlanta … see you soon!! #RiseUPATL I’m blessed for this opportunity. Let’s work!!”
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Richie Grant is a Playmaker
After not seeing the field as a redshirt freshman, Grant made himself a name at UCF during his sophomore season in 2017. After proving himself through 12 games on an undefeated team, Grant earned himself a starting role in 2018.
With Ricardo Allen out of the picture, Grant fills his leadership in Atlanta, but more importantly, Grant brings his playmaking skills to a struggling Atlanta defense.
Pro Football Focus sums up Grant’s scouting report:
Richie Grant is a playmaker. That’s never been more clear after a 2020 campaign that had him in contention for the Thorpe Award. Grant brings some of the best range in the 2020 class, and he plays with a physical mindset.
He’ll have to continue to hone his instincts and add to his frame at the NFL level, but if a team needs a defensive catalyst on early-to-mid Day 2, the UCF safety is one of the best value options in that range.
Some factors prevent Grant from being considered the draft’s top safety. He can still be more consistent, and his age also generates pause. Grant will be 24 years old by November of his rookie season, so there might be more long-term potential with other players.
Nevertheless, Grant is still an impact player with a nice floor-ceiling combination, and he also grew to be a defensive leader for UCF. His fast play speed, combined with his athleticism and physical mentality, ensures he’ll have a role waiting for him no matter where he’s picked.
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Falcons Skip QB in First Round
The Falcons have proven they have belief in Matt Ryan for the next two seasons and didn’t look to draft a quarterback with their No. 4 overall pick.
Grant joins Florida tight end, Kyle Pitts, as the Falcons’ first two picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-6 and 245 pound TE with 4.4 speed is a matchup nightmare that is bound to make an immediate impact in Atlanta.
Pitts is bringing versatility to Atlanta acting as a tight end or a wide receiver which is why he is considered to be the draft’s “unicorn.” It also helps that Smith is a fan of running an offense with two tight ends, so between him and Hayden Hurst, Ryan will have a dream team to work with.
The Falcons now have two major playmakers on their roster for next season.