Before Day 2 of the NFL draft last Friday, Cleveland fans were pretty sure a safety would be drafted by the end of the evening. Some people imagined a pure free safety because Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo both played a lot of strong safety. Others saw that Joseph spent a lot of time at free safety in 2019, so drafting a replacement for the older Sendejo would be a good fit.
The Browns didn’t have to wait long to find the answer: The Browns took Grant Delpit with pick #44. The Jim Thorpe Award winner had some trouble with his tackling in 2018 and 2019, to which he points out he played on a high ankle sprain for much of the regular season. Coach Stefanski was quoted saying Delpit is not just a pure free safety, and is “interchangable” throughout the defensive backfield. His 6’2, 213 pound frame certainly seems to have the length and meat to handle coverage against tight ends as well as navigating the line of scrimmage.
So how does Joe Woods use his safeties? Why did Stefanski stress the importance of versatility? Let’s take a quick look at what safeties are supposed to do in the system Joe Woods and defensive backs coach Jeff Howard adapted from Mike Zimmer.