Who's the best DB in the country? LSU's Grant Delpit gets to make his case
Grant Delpit is the best player in what LSU coach Ed Orgeron said is the best defensive backfield he has been around.
Delpit was a unanimous All-American as a sophomore last season and this year he’s a strong candidate for virtually every award for which a safety can be a candidate.
He’s essentially equally adept at rushing the passer as a blitzer, making tackles and guarding pass receivers.
He is a complete player, an elite player and will be a very, very high draft choice in the NFL Draft, presumably next April.
Delpit will get an opportunity to remind everyone of just how good he is and stake his claim to being the best defensive back in the country when the No. 5 Tigers meet No. 7 Florida on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
The game will be televised on ESPN and the network’s College GameDay show will emanate from the LSU campus, providing in-depth coverage that undoubtedly will at some point focus on Delpit.
They’ll probably also mention Florida junior CB CJ Henderson, who can stake a similar claim Saturday as well.
Here’s the thing about Delpit and this week’s game: Delpit needs to remind everyone of just how good he is.
After his remarkable season last year, he – like the Tigers’ defense as a whole – hasn’t been as eye-opening through 5 games.
Delpit’s versatility was demonstrated last season by the fact that he led the team in interceptions (5) as well as sacks (5), tying linebacker Michael Divinity Jr. He led the team with 9 passes defensed and he was 3rd in tackles with 74, finishing behind only Devin White, the most prolific tackler in school history, and Jacob Phillips, the leading tackler this season.
In the offseason he was selected to wear the coveted No. 7 (switching from No. 9), which is traditionally worn by LSU’s most dynamic playmaker. Among the others who have worn the number are Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.
Naturally, opposing offenses this season have devoted a significant portion of their game plans to staying away from Delpit.
That can partly explain a drop in Delpit’s statistics. But with White having moved on to the NFL, there has been room for multiple defenders to step in and pick up some of the slack, and Delpit has made just 19 stops, ranking 6th on the team.
“Grant’s a great, great player,” Orgeron said. “Great young man, very unselfish. Look if we put him back in the post all day he’s going to say, ‘Coach, I’ll play in the post, whatever it takes for the team.’”
LSU has won all but 1 game by a lopsided margin, so starters have been pulled early. That means fewer opportunities and Delpit has just 1 pass defended.
But there’s more.
Delpit, who briefly left the game against Utah State in the 1st quarter last week after being hit in the head and suffering a cut lip, came back and made his 1st interception of the season.
“When he came off the field, we thought he may have had a concussion, and I was a little nervous, to be honest with you,” Orgeron said. “But he went back in, I don’t know, couple of plays later, and played very well.”
Delpit and the defense as a whole might have reached a turning point against the Aggies, allowing just 19 rushing yards and 140 passing yards.
The safety has yet to make his 1st sack of the season, but that might be about to change.
“We would like to get Grant closer to the ball, blitz him, use him in a fashion where we’re rushing the quarterback, making different plays,” Orgeron said. “And I think you started to see that last week. You saw him on the line of scrimmage, blitzing, making more plays and you’ll see more of that.”
Florida has an inconsistent offensive line. It’s playing a backup quarterback who has an injured knee but throws strikes. But the Gators have a deep and talented wide receiver core, much like the one Delpit faces in practice. LSU is facing its highest-ranked opponent of the season. Delpit surely will find himself competing for jump balls Saturday night with future NFL receivers.
The Tigers need Delpit to play like Delpit.
Orgeron seems poised to turn him loose.
Who’s the best defensive back in the country?
No. 7 for LSU will make his case Saturday night.