Griffin, Ross Go Back-to-Back in First Round

Safety Michael Griffin was the first Longhorn taken in Saturday's NFL Draft, a First-Round pick of the Tennessee Titans and No. 19 overall. Aaron Ross immediately followed when the New York Giants named the 2006 Thorpe Award winner their top draft choice, No. 20 overall.

It's the third year in a row that Texas has had two First Round picks. It also marked the fifth time in six years that at least one Texas DB has been taken in the Four Rounds.

Call it the University of Texas at Tennessee. Griffin becomes the third Longhorn selected by the Titan organization in as many seasons. He joins former Longhorns QB Vince Young, TE Bo Scaife and FB Ahmard Hall in Nashville. Many expected Tennessee to select a WR, but the Titans ranked dead-last in total defense last season.

Griffin was the second safety selected Saturday. A vicious hitter, Griffin is versatile enough to play both safety spots and excels in zone coverage. Griffin could also be an immediate-impact player on special teams as his school-record eight blocked punts rank No. 2 all-time in Division-I history. He was Texas' leading tackler each of the past two seasons, recording 126 stops in 2006. He added four INTs and 10 PBU during his senior season.

Griffin's most memorable collegiate play came with little more than seven minutes remaining until halftime of the BCS National Championship Game against USC. The Trojans were threatening to add to their 7-3 lead when QB Matt Leinart lofted what appeared to be a 25-yard TD reception just inside the left pylon at the goal line. At the last second, Griffin leapt in front of the ball, making the grab while keeping one foot in-bounds. The momentum immediately shifted to the Longhorn sideline as the Horns reeled off a pair of TDs to take the lead into the locker room.

Most mock Drafts had Ross selected before Griffin. There is a current NFL adage that it is impossible to have too many CBs and the aging Giants' secondary is in need of an infusion. Scouts loved Ross' size (6-1, 200), closing speed and nose for the ball.

Ross staked his claim to First-Team All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors during a record-setting stretch in October when the Horns hit the road to face Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas Tech. He set a new school record for take-aways in a single quarter with four thefts in the fourth quarter against the Sooners. It was Ross' three-yard fumble return for a touchdown that sealed the deal in Dallas in Texas' 28-10 win. Two weeks later at Nebraska, it was Ross who prevented what would have been a game-clinching Husker third-down conversion with his wicked, fumble-forcing hit on WR Terrence Nunn. (Marcus Griffin's recovery gave Texas new life with 2:17 remaining and resulted in Ryan Bailey's game-winning FG).

Ross collected six INTs and 19 PBU, both team bests, in 2006. He added 80 tackles and had a direct hand in 11 turnovers last season (six INTs, three forced fumbles, two recoveries). Ross also earned Second-Team All-Big honors as a return specialist. He averaged 11.8 yards on 76 collegiate punt returns, including a school-record three returns for scores.

Griffin watched the Draft at his family's south Austin home while Ross followed the proceedings with his family in San Antonio.

Texas has had at least one player selected in the First Round during seven of the past nine Drafts.

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