It looks like another set of twins are about to invade the NFL. Actually, one of them is already there.
When the 2008 draft gets here, University of Texas free safety Marcus Griffin expects to join twin brother and fellow free safety Michael Griffin (Tennessee Titans) in NFL. Michael, himself a former Longhorn, was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Titans where he played in all 16 games, starting 10 of them.
Marcus, on the other hand, seemingly was that "tag along" twin who attended Texas because that's where his brother chose to go. Michael was scholarship; Marcus was not. However, Marcus walked on and was given a redshirt his freshman year.
Marcus was a bit player during his first two seasons, doing moderately well on special teams and some defensive work. He broke into the starting lineup during his third season, playing strong safety alongside his brother. Marcus amassed 86 tackles, made an interception, forced two fumbles and had a fumble recovery.
Just like they entered college football differently, the scenario to the pros has been different as well. Michael went in the first round following that one season they played together while Marcus returned to University of Texas.
Griffin exploded in his fifth year. He led the team in tackles (99), had three interceptions, broke up five passes, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. As a result of his play he earned a spot as a 2007 All-Big 12 first-team selection.
Griffin is versatile, having played both strong safety and free safety. He is at his best, however, playing against the run and actually getting a chance to attack the line of scrimmage. He does a nice job in space, wraps up well and isn't afraid to put his body on the line to punish an opposing ball carrier.
While he is a tackler, the statistics from his senior year indicate he is capable at defending deep as part of the Cover 2.
Griffin is a tough player with all-around physical ability. He is an instinctual player, a hard worker and, as indicated by numerous academic honors, a smart player.
Griffin comes in a bit smaller than the ideal size on the scouting charts. He has decent height (5-foot-10) but could use to add some muscle to his 201-pound frame.
A bigger issue might prove to be that covering - primarily man-to-man - is not his strength. His shortcomings in coverage are a concern because his body type is that of a free safety, while his mental approach and the strengths of his game are most suited to being a strong safety.
The biggest concern, at this point, is that he did not show well at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine. He ran a 4.71 40-yard dash, did 13 reps at 225 pounds and produced a mediocre 31 1/2 inches in the vertical leap.
Expected Draft Placement
Griffin entered the 2007 season as one of the top three senior safeties, having been listed between the third and fifth free safeties on the draft board. The question is; how much did his performance at the combine hurt him?
Griffin's ability to contribute on special teams gives him some immediate value to a club, but he doesn't figure to hear his name called until late in the fourth round. The fifth round seems like the most likely landing point for Griffin but the early sixth isn't out of the question, either.
About Carland B. Whitaker
Carland Whitaker, a graduate journalist, is a fierce competitor of fantasy football. A former high school football coach, he brings a unique "old school" philosophy and passion for the game. Carland has been a KFFL contributor since 2004.
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