George Paton has killed his first offseason as Denver’s general manager and two of his biggest moves have been re-signing both Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson. That alleviated some of the need for a safety, but the depth behind them is ugly as of now, and they’ll need a long-term replacement for Jackson sooner rather than later.

Is Richie Grant the ideal draft-day target to fill that need for present depth and that future need starting alongside Justin Simmons?


Versatility is a sticking point in Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme, especially when it comes to defensive backs, and Richie Grant has that in spades, both as a safety and in general.

As a safety, he can do it all. He has no problem coming up and laying the wood in run support. He has excellent form and doesn’t showcase any hesitation as he delivers a shot to the running back. He’s also great in downfield coverage because his solid athleticism and high-end instincts allow him to cover a lot of ground. He has the ball skills paired with that range to make opponents pay, as evidenced by the 15 turnovers he created through 46 games at UCF. He also has experience playing both as a two-high safety and as a single-high safety.

But even outside of his safety responsibilities, his versatility reigns supreme.

He can come down and play nickel, like Will Parks, but unlike Parks and many of his other peers, Grant doesn’t play the cornerback position like one would expect a safety to. His fluidity, movement skills, and technique when lined up as a corner is so good you might even be able to play him outside if you’re hit by a wave of injuries.

That coverage ability should be very intriguing to a team like the Broncos, who could use such a talented man-coverage safety to help them in matchups against Travis Kelce and Darren Waller.

Grant also presents a lot of upside on special teams, where the Broncos have been desperate for help for the better part of the last half-decade. Grant would become one of, if not the best special teams player on the Broncos almost immediately. He has all the traits to perform well on special teams and also has experience playing nearly every phase of special teams. In fact, he ranks among the top five players in the entire class in terms of special teams snaps.


Grant is a very smart player who is quick to react to what he is seeing, but sometimes he is too quick. His aggressiveness can sometimes feel like over-aggressiveness when he bites too hard on play-action or comes downhill to help in coverage too soon and leaves the backend of the defense exposed for a deep shot.

If Grant can gain more patience and discipline while holding onto the aggression that makes him such a tantalizing prospect, he’ll be a fantastic NFL safety. Unfortunately, as of now, his over-aggression might lead to too many blown coverages for a coach like Fangio — that wants to force offenses to take long, methodical drives downfield — to stomach.

Lastly, while athleticism isn’t a problem with Grant, it’s not much of a strength either, and against elite athletes, he can be exposed at times.


Richie Grant is a picture-perfect safety for the Fangio defense thanks to his high football IQ, his versatility and his physicality. Also, with his ball-hawking ability, he might help generate the turnovers Denver’s defense has been starved of.

He’ll also be an instant-impact player on special teams.

It’s fair to worry about the blown coverages he could create on the backend, but learning from Ed Donatell, Christian Parker, Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson for a season should help alleviate those issues.

He projects to be a very similar pro to Kareem Jackson, so selecting him to replace Jackson in the long term and Will Parks in the short term is ideal.

Draft Projection: Early 2nd round

MHS Broncos Big Board Ranking: 28th (1st among safeties)