Over the last several years, it seems, a special talent seems to fall to the Steelers when they should have been drafted already. In 2012 it was David DeCastro. In 2014, that person was Stephon Tuitt. This year, that person could be Ohio State's Doran Grant.
For as much as I liked the Senquez Golson pick in the second round, I love taking Grant in the fourth. In fact, he fell into my ideal draft. I also wanted his teammate, Jeff Heuerman, but you can't win 'em all.
While a lot of analysts had him pegged as a round-three to round-five guy, there were more than a handful who saw him as a potential second-round pick. He doesn't have great height at 5-feet-10-inches, but he makes up for it with his weight. At 200 pounds, his pounds-per-inch measurement comes in at a whopping 2.85, quite high for a cornerback. For comparison, that's almost identical to Sammie Coates, the wide receiver the team selected in the third round.
What the Steelers get from that thick build is a player who excels at tackling. Grant is eager to jump into the pile and reads and reacts well on screens and in the run game. That's actually a trend with their two defensive-back picks in this draft -- guys who simply are not afraid to mix it up. That's exactly the kind of cornerback you need in a physical defensive scheme, and it's something that had a negative impact throughout the 2014 season for the Steelers. He reminds me very much of former Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend, also a fourth-round pick. So much so that it's almost like watching Townsend play all over again.
In zone and off coverage, he does a great job of keeping the play in front of him. He reads throws consistently and plays the ball well enough when needed. Basically, he's a blue-collar cornerback. In a place like Pittsburgh, that's the kind of player we look for. He just goes out and does his job. Period.
One of the best qualities about the kid, though, is his leadership. As a senior in 2014, Grant was named a captain of the Buckeyes' football team. Reports are that he carries himself like a captain, too. That leadership could come in handy in the coming years as the defensive rebuild is nearly complete, with only James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons still around from the team that won Super Bowl XLIII.
A blue-collar player with leadership ability?
Someone buy this kid a hard hat and a lunch pail.