There was his performance in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., that gave him the first taste of interviews with pro franchises. There was his decision to train at EXOS in Pensacola, Fla., to prepare for the battery of tests at the NFL Combine. His participation in this weekend’s combine – held in Indianapolis – is just the latest step of evaluation. Grant will work out with his fellow defensive backs on Monday but spoke to reporters on Saturday afternoon.
“I'm taking it as what it is, what's the next step, what’s the next thing and trying to attack it each week,” Grant told reporters in Indianapolis.
That approach has served him well thus far. Grant said he’s spoken to the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers thus far. He also has meetings scheduled with the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers.
He said those interviews went well, noting that his Senior Bowl experience really helped prepare him for these de facto job interviews.
“The interview process went well for me with the formal interviews and informal at the Senior Bowl,” Grant said. “I got good experience there, answering some questions they wanted to know. Got to meet a lot of coaches and personnel.”
Just as his experience in Mobile helped him navigate the interview process, his training in Pensacola has him confident that he’ll be able to blaze his way through the 40-yard dash on Monday. He cited the fact that on Saturday, Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley (4.35 seconds) and William and Mary wide receiver Tre McBride put up two of the six fastest 40 times on Saturday. Both trained with Grant at EXOS.
He avoided making any predictions about how fast he might be but hinted that he was feeling good about his chances to put up a good time.
More than the Senior Bowl and EXOS, though, Grant prepared for his upcoming NFL career during his time at Ohio State. As a senior on the 2014 national championship team, Grant made 63 tackles and finished second on the team with five interceptions – which he returned for a combined 106 yards.
He lined up against Biletnikoff winner Amari Cooper in the Sugar Bowl, holding the Heisman Trophy finalist to nine catches for 71 yards – one of his lowest outputs of the season. He also faced fellow combine participant Devin Funchess, who recorded seven catches for 108 yards in OSU’s win against Michigan.
“I think it helped me,” Grant said. I had some good tape from both of them. I think it will help in this process, (teams can) see what I've got.
The senior captain is also hopeful that franchises will take into account his ability to lead both on and off the field.
“I know NFL teams want leadership,” he said. “They want grown men on their team, and I think I can provide that also.
“I feel like verbally, my last two years, junior and senior year, is when I really stepped out of my shell. I always led by example. I always did everything right. But leading more verbally and being that standout guy, my last two years, I think. But natural-born leader, yes.”
Grant is rated by ESPN as the No. 105 overall prospect in the draft. Depending on how many compensatory picks are awarded at the owners’ meetings in March, that would put Grant as a late third or early fourth-round pick.
When told by a reporter that NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock had pegged Grant as one of the more underrated players at his position, Grant agreed but noted that he’s just going to keep working as he’s done since his college career ended.
“I kind of got that vibe a little bit, but it's only a matter of time,” he said. “That's why I'm not really nervous about anything, I'm just going to do what I can do and the future will come.”