That huge chip on Grayland Arnold’s shoulder has been there since birth. He uses it as motivation — and fodder on social media.
Arnold was forced to watch 255 other players jump off the board last week after he went undrafted. As his supporters flooded Twitter with positive messages — and links to his many highlight-reel plays — the Baylor safety couldn’t hide his emotions. He was “pissed off.”
The best case for Arnold, according to the scouts, was a Day 3 selection. When that didn’t happen, the ball-hawking safety (and nickel cornerback) from Baylor let his emotions go. Even after the Philadelphia Eagles finally signed him as an undrafted free agent.
The Eagles listed the 5-foot-9, 186-pound hybrid player at defensive back but he can play cornerback and safety. Eagles GM Howie Roseman later clarified that Arnold would get a shot at safety during training camp in an interview with SportsRadio 94WIP. Unprompted, the executive dumped a truckload of flattering compliments on him.
“Grayland Arnold from Baylor, a safety, he’s a guy that when we saw him run a 4.59 (40-yard dash), we were shocked,” Roseman told Angelo Cataldi. “He’s got tremendous production on the ball and we were really excited to get him as an undrafted free agent.”
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Arnold Could Be Undrafted ‘Steal’ of NFL Draft
The fact that Arnold went undrafted shocked many in the know. He tied for fifth in the nation last year in interceptions with six.
He finished the season with 46 total tackles and two pass breakups while earning second-team All-America and second-team All-Big 12 honors. He started 11 games at safety in 13 appearances at Baylor in 2019 as a red-shirt junior. Then, in a surprising move, he decided to skip his senior year and enter the NFL Draft.
“At the end of the day, if I get an inch, I’ll take a mile,” Arnold told KCENTV in Central Texas. “I need to get my feet in the door, regardless if it’s drafted or undrafted.”
His incredible speed — 4.59 seconds in the 40 — made him an attractive commodity to the Eagles. Arnold also served as a return man in college and took 12 back for 149 yards and a score in 2019. John Morris, the play-by-play announcer for Baylor football, called him the “steal” of the draft.
“I think they’re going to get a steal there, from Grayland Arnold,” Morris said, via KCENTV. “Grayland has played cornerback, so he’s got those skills and then played safety also. He can do pretty much anything you would ask of him so I hope he gets a shot.”
Scouting Report: Durability & Tackling Concerns
Arnold’s scouting reports drew mixed reviews from the draft experts. Can he stay healthy at the next level? He struggled with injuries in college, including missing three games in 2017 with a broken arm and nine contests in 2018 with a busted ankle. He appeared in only 30 total games in four years at Baylor.
Lance Zeilein of NFL.com called him an “instinctive nickel cornerback prospect” in his notes:
Instinctive nickel cornerback prospect with above-average field awareness and ball skills to track it and flip the field. Arnold has man-cover athleticism with good route anticipation but lacks the big closing burst to quickly close ground after separation. He’s more impactful in smaller spaces where his instincts and quarterback awareness allow him to shade and squeeze throwing lanes. Arnold’s punt-return ability adds additional Day 3 value, but durability and tackling are concerning.
Meanwhile, Walter Football blasted Arnold’s decision to skip his senior year and handed him a C- grade.
Grayland Arnold probably should’ve gone back to school, as he’s a late-round prospect at best. I can understand why he’s making the jump, given the coaching change at Baylor, but it’s hard to grade this favorably.
The Eagles took a flier on Arnold as an undrafted free agent and it could turn out to be a steal. Hybrid defensive backs are all the rage.