The Pittsburgh Steelers put a strong emphasis on the defensive side of the football in the 2015 NFL Draft, and no area of the defense was as sought after than help in the team's porous secondary. After selecting Senquez Golson out of Ole Miss in the second round, the Steelers took Doran Grant of Ohio State in the fourth. Golson gets more publicity being a higher draft pick, but Grant shouldn't be overlooked in terms of what he brings to the table.
What is it he brings to the table exactly? A leader with a 'do-it-all' pedigree at defensive back. When reviewing Golson's ability to play the run, tremendous angles and ball skills it is easy to see why he was a second round draft pick. If the man were two-inches taller he would have been taken in the first round. Grant is equally impressive in several aspects of his game, and could be a major player for the Steelers, maybe not as a rookie, but in years to come.
Take a look at the film breakdown of Grant against Cincinnati in 2014.
The first thing which pops off the screen is Grant's run support. In the two cornerbacks the Steelers selected in the draft, they picked two players who aren't afraid of making a tackle, and who are great in pursuit of the ball carrier. Grant is a very instinctive player, but also knows how to play within the defensive system. In Ohio State's zone coverage schemes Grant (a captain on the National Championship team) recognizes his responsibilities to perfection.
In the next film against the University of Maryland in 2014, there are some plays which you see Grant make some mistakes. Not many, but mistakes which could have been exploited by a better offense.
As stated earlier, Grant is a great tackler and does his part in run support. Early in the film Grant gets caught staring in the backfield on occasion which could lead to a big play down the field. One aspect of this film which should show Steelers fans what you might expect from Grant as a rookie is his special teams play. Grant was used at Ohio State on the punt block unit, and he could field a similar role for the Steelers as a rookie.
Grant gets called for a pass interference penalty in the red-zone, but even the best cornerbacks will surrender a touchdown or get flagged for pass interference on occasion. Grant shows decent coverage skills, and there is room for improvement in that area, but you can't watch his film without being impressed in his tackling ability.
Grant as a coverage corner is not quite ready for NFL receivers yet. He is by no stretch of the imagination a lost cause, but when it comes to refined skills he certainly is lacking behind draft classmate Golson in many areas. Grant's backpedal and hips are not as fast and fluent as Golson, but his tackling might be better. Grant is as tough as they come in terms of defensive backs, and there has been talk of him possibly playing both cornerback and safety. He certainly has the tackling ability and football IQ for the both positions.
Grant is a leader, and someone who very well could be part of the future at the cornerback position for the Steelers. If he and Golson both develop into solid cornerbacks during their rookie contracts, then the 2015 Draft class will be considered a tremendous success.