Draft Prospect Q&A: Safety Matt Griebel

In our interview with safety Matt Griebel, we enjoy some Q&A banter as he tells you about making 23 tackles in a single game, what he enjoys most on the football field and how he accomplishes it all.

New Mexico State safety Matt Griebel worked out for the Indianapolis Colts, making him a prospect of interest for a Cover-2 defense like the Vikings are going to be running this year. We find out what makes Griebel tick in our Q&A.

Question: During your senior year you had 149 tackles, including 23 tackles in a single game against Boise State. How in the world did you make 23 tackles in a game?

Matt Griebel: We played some coverages that they kept running into and I just happened to be the guy in that spot they kept running into. It was a good defense for me to be able to roll down into the box as part of our scheme and several of them [tackles] were on special teams. And we punted quite a bit that game so I had a lot of opportunities to make plays on the punt coverage. 

Q: You're obviously a guy who has the range to make plays all over the field, against the run and special teams, tell us a little bit about your coverage skills. Where do you excel in that arena?

MG: I think I have a good free safety mentality. I enjoy being back away from the line because it gives me good vision. When you're further back, you're able to see the whole field and that vision has really enabled me to run and make plays all over the field. So when you're further back, sideline to sideline really isn't that difficult because you have such good vision back there.

Q: You were also named to the all-academic conference team and you're a mechanical engineering major. Where does your commitment to academics come from?

MG: I've always enjoyed learning and I consider myself a realistic person. I knew when I started college that I wanted to make my academics something worthwhile, something that when I graduated would be worthwhile to have in the real world. I could get a job as an engineer and be successful with that. So, it stems from the fact that I wanted a good job and I enjoy the challenge and work, it was the perfect fit. 

Q: Are you a game film junkie?

MG: I wouldn't consider myself a junkie, but I definitely prepared as much as I needed to. I was never under-prepared for a game. 

Q: As a player, what are the greatest strengths you feel you offer an NFL team?

MG: I think learning ability, I've had some conversations with people and obviously the next level up there is a lot more learning involved – several different packages and the speed increases very quickly. So I think my ability to learn and adjust are going to help me because I'll be able to pick things up quickly.

Q: You were a walk-on at New Mexico State. That gives you some pretty good insight on the determination you're going to need to work your way up through the pro ranks, doesn't it?

MG: Absolutely. Things are never given to you. If you want something, you're going to have to work hard for it. I set my mind to playing college football at the division I level and I have the same determination to play at the next level. I feel that I need just one door to open and then I can do the rest.

Q: I saw your strength coach called you "the toughest guy on our team." How have you built that reputation during your college career?

MG: I think it stems from the attitude that I've had both on and off the field but it also comes from my ability to return from several different injuries and the way that I've reacted to those injuries and how I've rehabilitated those things quickly, with a good attitude and just to still be able to play in spite of those injuries.

Q: You played your whole senior year with a cast on your arm, didn't you?

MG: Yes, it was a hard plastic cast.

Q: Did that hurt at all when you were out there hitting people?

MG: Sometimes, but pain is part of the game. If you don't enjoy a little bit of pain, you're playing the wrong sport.

Q: Tell me about that special teams work, what different teams do you have experience on?

MG: I played everything when I was a freshman, but my sophomore year I really got attached to kickoff coverage and then the punt coverage, which are actually two of my favorite plays in football. If you consider my freshman year, the majority of those were special teams tackles and a handful in each game came from the punt coverage. It's just something I really love to do and I pride myself in being one of the best at it.

Q: So your coaches pulled you off kickoff coverage because you're a bit of a berserker out there?

MG: I think so. That's the impression that I got. I remember the game. It was when we played Oregon State and I was having a bunch of shoulder problems with some stingers and I made a couple of crazy hits during that game and the next game I was off of the [kickoff] coverage for good (laughs).

Q: On the field, we've established you're a tough guy. Off the field, are you a tough guy or a nice guy?

MG: I'm a nice guy, for sure. Saturdays, when I used to play in college, was kind of a day of transformation to allow me to be a little tougher than I am the rest of the week.

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