After Ryan Grant signed a 4-year, $29 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens during the 2018 offseason, a profusion of football fans let out a collective, “who?”
“Baltimore gave $7.25 million per season to a guy with less than 1,000 career receiving yards? What are they thinking?”
The Ravens appeared to feel buyers’ remorse immediately posthaste, voiding Grant’s contract the very next day after a reported failed physical. A week later, Grant would pass a physical and sign a 1-year, $5 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts, where he went on to post 35 catches, 334 yards and one touchdown in 14 games.
Now, Grant finds himself playing in Oakland on a 1-year, $1 million deal. His quiet addition this offseason seemed to give the Raiders a deep stable of capable wide receivers, but with the “AB Summer Saga” ending in obscenity, Grant finds himself thrust into the No. 2 receiver role for the Silver & Black.
Is he capable of playing the role that Baltimore originally signed him to fill?
Current Raiders’ scout Nolan Nawrocki apparently didn’t think so prior to the 2014 draft, projecting Grant (an eventual fifth round pick) as a Round 7-Priority Free Agent level prospect.
“Productive, monotone, unrefined, enigmatic mid-major receiver with one of the best pair of hands in the draft, though he comes with concerning tweener traits he will have to overcome,” Nawrocki’s NFL.com scouting report on Grant reads. “Lacks ideal speed and physicality to survive outside and lacks ideal suddenness and toughness to thrive inside. Workout numbers will be critical.”
At 6-foot and 195 pounds, Grant doesn’t wow with physical traits or splashy plays. He simply runs good routes, gets open and makes catches with strong, soft hands.
According to Pride of Detroit writer and statistician Kent Lee Platte, Grant posted a 5.1 Relative Athletic Score (RAS) at the combine out of 10.
When matched up historically against other receivers entering the draft, Grant notched “Okay” size, “Poor” speed, “Good” explosion and “Great” agility.
In other words, Grant won’t be breaking off major chunk plays down the field, but his combination of agility and sure-handedness make him a quality option for the Raiders moving forward.
Since Sports Info Solutions began charting football data in 2015, Grant has hauled in an impressive 82.1 percent of catchable passes thrown his way and 63.5 percent of his total targets. However, he’s only managed 4.0 yards after catch per reception on 115 grabs since 2015, showing his limited open field ability.
That showed up on Monday night against the Broncos, when Grant was only able to turn 3 catches into 16 yards on 4 targets.
Grant wound up playing 71 percent of snaps and was the clear No. 2 option at receiver for Jon Gruden’s offense. He posted a target share of 15.4 percent, which would be the highest of his career if that number holds up across the season. Previously, his highest target share came in 2017, when he garnered a 12.2 percent target share and caught 90 percent of catchable balls thrown his way.
All this to say, Grant is probably in over his head as a No. 2 receiver and No. 3 option behind Tyrell Williams and do-it-all tight end Darren Waller. He will likely get a plethora of targets simply because he is the most capable option at the moment. But what he does with those targets will dictate whether or not he’s in line for the kind of pay day he nearly got in 2018 after the culmination of this season.
Grant is a viable option as the third banana for now due to his solid hands and propensity for finding open space, but with a skillset duplicative of Hunter Renfrow, I’d expect his stock to go down as the season progresses.