Defensive coordinator Joe Woods has plans for rookie safety Grant Delpit.
A lot of plans.
The Browns drafted Delpit out of LSU in the second round with the No. 44 pick. General manager Andrew Berry coveted his versatility, and Woods can’t wait to put it to use.
“Grant is a very talented player,” Woods said Thursday on a Zoom conference call with area reporters. “When you look at his tape, he has the ability to play down in the box and he has the ability to play in the post. We can play him in the dime. He can match up in the slot and man coverage.
“He is the ideal type of athlete that I look forward to getting in the secondary. The size and the speed, to me, he possesses it all.”
Delpit (6-foot-2½, 213 pounds) was an All-American in his final two seasons and won the Thorpe Award in 2019 as the nation’s top defensive back.
The honor came despite a drop-off in production from 2018, when he had five sacks, five interceptions and 14 passes defensed. As a junior last season he was hobbled by a high ankle sprain and totaled two sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He was widely criticized for missing too many tackles — 38 over the last two years.
“Obviously everybody has talked about it and he has heard about it from everybody about the tackling issues,” said Woods, who was hired in February by first-time coach Kevin Stefanski. “The one thing is I know he can tackle. We just need him to be more consistent. That is something we will work on. He is eager and he is ready to go.”
Baylor coach and former LSU coordinator Dave Aranda recently told The Chronicle-Telegram the ankle injury was a “major” factor in Delpit’s 2019 struggles. While Aranda said Delpit can play all over the field, he likes him best in the deep middle.
“The post is probably where he’s the most naturally gifted,” Aranda said. “His range and his instincts are all very real. He separates himself pretty distinctly there. But his ability to play all of those roles and interchange them within a game, or by first down to second down to third down, that makes him unique, as well.”
MIX AND MATCH
Woods’ previous experience as a coordinator came in 2017-18 with the Broncos, who ranked third in yards allowed and 22nd in points allowed in 2017 and 22nd and 13th in 2018. After spending last season as defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator with the NFC champion 49ers, Woods cherry picked to create his system with the Browns.
“What I am really putting together is a combination of what I feel like have been the top defenses of the last basically 10 years,” he said. “It is really a combination of the things that I have done in Minnesota, Denver and San Francisco, and they all fit together.
“We are almost through our whole install so I feel like it is going to be a really good defensive package that is simple where the guys can play fast, but I think it will cause some problems for the offenses.”
LIVE AND LEARN
The defensive coaches won’t be able to take a hands-on approach to teaching technique until teams are permitted to practice — likely with the start of training camp, which is scheduled for late July. In the meantime, Woods is pleased with how the players are grasping his scheme mentally.
“I feel like these Zoom meetings have been really good because it forces you to be very detailed with everything you are trying to put in,” he said. “We have had really good conversations as a defensive staff to make sure that the exact wording is right, the picture is right and the lines are right. And the same thing with the players because everything they are getting is virtually so they are asking a lot of good questions. I think they are learning a lot.”
The coaches are relying on quizzes to make sure all the players are keeping pace.
“We have gone to great lengths to try to do as much as we can to really find out what they are learning,” Woods said. “To me, I really think it is going well.”
Glenn Cook was promoted to vice president of player personnel from assistant director of pro scouting, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram.
Cook joined the personnel department in 2016 after four years as a scout with the Packers.
Berry continues to reshape the front office in his first time as a GM. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was previously hired as vice president of football operations — essentially assistant general manager — former Colts GM Ryan Grigson will stay in a full-time role after serving as an adviser during the draft process and Charles Walls was hired as a national scout.
NEVER TOO SOON
The Browns are already preparing for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Browns are scheduled to open against the reigning MVP on Sept. 13 in Baltimore and face him again Monday night Dec. 14.
“We spent some time, I will tell you that,” Woods said. “We have done some things this offseason to help us. What Baltimore does is unique in terms of their scheme.
“Obviously with Lamar, he is just athletic, speed and he can do it all. You can have a guy accounting for him, but can that guy make the play? That is what it comes down to.”
A GOOD CAUSE
The American Red Cross will host a blood drive Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium’s KeyBank Club.
The Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations as hospitals resume surgical procedures and treatments that were paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Donors must wear a face covering or mask at the blood drive.