NFL Draft Q&A: Texas S Michael Griffin

Safety is the new running back in the NFL. Teams no longer wait until round two and beyond to secure the top players at the position and Texas safety Michael Griffin is benefiting. He met with at least five teams for personal visits. Find out which teams have shown him love, his ability to play multiple positions, blocking punts, and much more...

The Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, and St. Louis Rams all had Griffin in for a personal visit. In fact, there were only three teams he didn't at least talk to sometime this off-season.

Can you talk about what it has been like to be able to play on the same team and same field as your brother?

Michael Griffin: It was fun. All our lives we always played the same sports, we always played and worked together on different fields. Soccer fields, playing baseball, he was a catcher, I was a pitcher. Soccer, I was a forward, he was a midfielder. Basketball. Every sport we ever played, we always kind of worked together. It's been fun. It helped us throughout our whole lives.

Did it help you going through the pre-draft process?

Michael Griffin: It's helping right now. I mean, he has another year. He redshirted a year. He's a redshirt senior next year and I'm gone. But it helps out, the fact that we can talk through things. Like, I'm going through it now and next year he'll be going through it. But he's always there and in my corner, just helping me out, pushing me through it, giving me a call every once in a while, checking on me to see how things are going. It's kind of good to have somebody who's the same age as you and may go through the same thing. I can help him out like he helped me out with a lot of different things.

Can you talk about your Senior Bowl experience?

Michael Griffin: It was fun. I expected something totally different, but it was a lot of fun, just getting to meet a lot of top players, the guy that you read about. You see the name, but it was good to be able to put a face to the name. It was fun just getting out there and hanging out with everybody despite the game. It was kind of wet and rainy and cold, but outside of that it was fun. The practices were fun, everybody just laughing and giggling and having fun, just talking about what happened during the season and everybody calming each other. It was a whole great experience.

Did you notice differences in the coaching, compared to what you experienced in college?

Michael Griffin: Not really, because our coach at the University of Texas, Coach (Duane) Akina, he's been offered a lot of positions at the next level but he always turned them down. I mean, he's coached three Thorpe winners back-to-back — Aaron Ross and Michael Huff. He's a great coach. He teaches a lot of things, the fact that I'm a safety, he still taught me things that the corners know, he still taught me things about safety. It kind of helps down the line. Michael Huff got drafted last year, but he was able to play corner. Cedric Griffin got drafted as a corner, but he's able to play safety. He just helps us all around. Right now people are talking to me about whether or not I can play corner. I know the techniques about playing corner. It wasn't too bad. We only had a week or three days to put in a defense and go out there and try to execute it, so there's not too much coaching. It's just to see exactly what we have, what did we learn in college and what's our overall talent, so we just went out there and just played.

And also how hard you work?

Michael Griffin: We worked hard, but it wasn't that bad. A lot of people said they weren't used to a lot of drills we were running out there, or they weren't used to playing different coverages and stuff, some of the different terminology. But some of the terminology they were using all translated to what we used at the University of Texas.

Can you tell me what teams you have not talked to through this whole process?

Michael Griffin: Basically, I talked to every team, except I would say the Cardinals and probably Buffalo Bills and New York Giants. Those are probably the three teams I did not talk to. I talked to all the other teams.

Do you feel like calling those three teams and saying, ‘What's up with that?'

Michael Griffin: Just looking at Buffalo, I believe it was, last year they drafted Donte Whitner with the No. 8 pick overall and also drafted Ashton Youboty. Two players from Ohio State, both DBs. I guess this year they're not really looking for DBs, they're looking more for other spots. The Giants, I really can't tell you. I can't complain. At least I got 29 other teams out of 32.

You're known as a big hitter. Is there a fine line going for the big hit instead of just going for the tackle?

Michael Griffin: Yeah, there is a fine line. You've got to be able to chose, you can't just go ... me not being the biggest guy in the world, 198 pounds right now, you can't run up and hit any guy. Sometimes you've got to realize you've got to bring the guy down, you've got to go up, hit, wrap and run. Some guys, if you catch them right, they're not looking and they're off balance, you can come up and make a big hit. But I heard at the next level being a safety is not about making a big hit, it's about making plays. And that's the main thing I'm also able to do is make a lot of plays.

Do you think after the Senior Bowl and these off-season workouts that scouts now know how good you are as a pass defender?

Michael Griffin: Yeah, I think they do. I think they realize. They got to see me go out there, got to play well, a little one-on-one. I think it worked out well. I think I also had a couple of great hits and a couple of great tackles. I think scouts realized I'm a complete, all-around player rather than just a big hitter, some guy that can just come up and hit and make tackles. I think people saw another side of me, I can play, go out there and line up against a receiver and do a lot of different things.

You had eight blocked punts at Texas. That speaks for itself.

Michael Griffin: It was Coach Akina again. He's a great special teams coach when it comes down to punt returns. If you decide to kick it and punt it deep, you had Aaron Ross back there returning punts and he's a great punt returner. If we want to go all-out block and you try to sky-kick or directional-kick, Coach Akina tried to disguise it and tried to use me to get in there and block a few punts. I mean, it's worked out great.

A few punts? Eight is not a few punts.

Michael Griffin: I was trying to break the NCAA record, which is 10. I ended up breaking the school record and set the single-season record at the school and also being second all time in NCAA history. At one point, I was tied for second with quite a few people, but I think they're all still at five or six, and I managed to get to eight. So I think it's kind of hard just trying to get to eight, so I'm just going to go ahead and go with that.

How difficult do you believe it will be to make the adjustment to the NFL at the safety position?

Michael Griffin: Really, it's just kind of a whole new learning process, but I think at the next level I don't think a lot of coaches are expecting us to be able to come in there and know a lot of stuff and then go ahead and tweak it here and there. Just going to go out there and do the best I can.

What areas of your game do you feel you improve between now and the draft?

Michael Griffin: Really, wouldn't say trying to improve on, just trying to go out there, just do the best I can, give the best effort that I have.

You're a former running back. Are there times when you wish you were still hitting the holes instead of hitting opponents?

Michael Griffin: I mean, God, I've been playing safety for so long right now, I'm just stuck here, I'm a safety now. I'm not even thinking about that anymore, I'm thinking about playing safety now.

What current NFL player would you compare yourself to?

Michael Griffin: I don't know. I like not to answer that question because I just feel like I can compare myself. I don't want to offend somebody else, they feel like I'm not as good as them, but I try to play a lot like Troy Polamalu, the fact that he's just always around the ball and just trying to get there, go 110 percent every play. I try to just play like him.

What will the team drafting Michael Griffin be getting?

Michael Griffin: I'd say they're getting a great special teams player, somebody that not necessarily has to contribute on defense right away but can help on special teams being able to make big plays on special teams.

Is that your expectation?

Michael Griffin: Wouldn't say my expectation, but I just want to go in there and give it whatever I've got. If you need me on special teams, I'm there. If you need me on defense, I'm there. Any way to help the team win, I'm willing to do that.

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