Cedric Griffin is looking to get the respect he feels he deserves. Most draft analysts say he's a better fit at safety than at cornerback, where he played the majority of his college career. But then again, few people gave his Texas Longhorns team more than a puncher's chance against the heavily favored USC Trojans in the college football championship game in January.
Griffin takes the talk about his potential inability to excel at his natural position in stride, but admits that he isn't sure what plans the Vikings have in store for him. But he is prepared for whatever the Vikings ask him to do.
"In college I played the dime and the nickel position early in my career," Griffin said. "Later in my career, I stayed at the corner and the dime. I covered the slot pretty much my whole career, so I'm not going to have a transition problem."
He comes to Minnesota as a collegiate champion, something most analysts weren't willing to give Texas when they advanced to play in the BSC title game. As one of the players on the team being written off, Griffin and his teammates took it a little personally. After all, they had earned the right to play for the title and found it hard to believe that USC was being crowned as champ before the game was even played.
"It was a hard feeling because we are competitors and we had a great team," Griffin said. "Whenever someone is doubting a great team, it just motivates you to play harder. We didn't like it all and went in with an attitude and we came out with a victory. That was how it ended."
There seems to be much of the same unwarranted questions and criticism following Griffin to the pros. After excelling at cornerback at the college level, some scouts began postulating that he would have to move to safety at the NFL level. While he still considers himself a cornerback, he said he's willing to make the switch if it helps the team.
"At safety you get to roam around a lot," Griffin said. "I love moving around and I love running free and knocking people out. That is my style of play and, if I have to play safety, that is what I'll do. If I have to play there, that is what I'll do."
Griffin also sees the benefit of coming into a system that already has a pair of veteran corners in Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot and a Pro Bowl safety in Darren Sharper. All of them have been down the same road Griffin is preparing to travel – being the new kid in town and carrying lofty expectations. Griffin said he expects to pick their brains to get as much knowledge as he can to help make his transition to the pros a lot smoother.
"Whenever you come into a new situation, you always want to learn from the veterans," Griffin said. "Learn from the guys you looked up at while you're in college. I am definitely going to want to come in and try to learn a little bit and try to earn my way."
Anyone who underestimates Griffin's ability to excel just needs to remember that he's been underestimated before and most of his critics have eventually eaten their words.
Cedric Griffin: Cornerback or Safety?
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