Maiocco Interviews Groves
If not gone by 28, Groves 'praying' 49ers take him
A week from now, all the torture will be over. Twenty-eight teams will have chosen and the 49ers will finally provide the answer of what they plan to do at No. 29. Certainly, when a team's next move can be determined only after 28 others make their selections, a lot of stuff can happen.
Auburn outside linebacker Quentin Groves seems to be among at least a handful of players whom could be available when the 49ers go on the clock. There is no concrete evidence of the 49ers' intentions. But we know the 49ers have done their homework on him. GM Scot McCloughan personally scouted Groves' pro day workout at Auburn five weeks ago. The 49ers also invited Groves for a face-to-face meeting at their Santa Clara practice facility on Friday.
Today, I spoke with Groves on the phone. At the end of our 15-minute conversation, I asked the big question:
Let's say after 28 picks your name has not gone off the board. The 49ers are on the clock with the 29th pick. Who do you expect them to take?
"I'm praying they take me -- I'm praying they take me," Groves answered. "If I'm not gone by 28, then I pray the 49ers take me at 29. And if I'm not gone at 29, then, whatever team that takes me is going to take me. I'm not going to cry about it. I'm not going to moan that I should've gone here or I should've gone there. I'm going to be in the National Football League and I'm going to make you pay. The teams that passed on me are the teams that are going to pay."
Groves has also visited the Bengals, Steelers, Browns, Dolphins, Giants, Jets and Patriots, he said. Groves spoke today on the phone from San Diego, where he is enjoying the weekend with his wife, Treska, a former Auburn track athlete from Trinidad & Tobago.
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INSTANT 49ERS: What about the 49ers visit yesterday was different than what you experienced in the other places?
GROVES: "I think it was more of a relaxed atmosphere."
INSTANT 49ERS: What did they do?
GROVES: "They didn't do anything. I came in and we talked. I sat down and talked to the linebackers coach. I talked to coach Nolan. Everything was just so laid back. Nothing was formal."
INSTANT 49ERS: Did you talk to Mike Singletary or Jason Tarver?
GROVES: "Coach Tarver."
INSTANT 49ERS: Did you meet Singletary?
GROVES: "I met him at the combine."
INSTANT 49ERS: What are your impressions of the 49ers as an organization?
GROVES: "They're a great organization with a storied history. Of course, they've had a couple bad years, but a couple of their key guys got hurt. I think they'll bounce back. I think they'll be back this year and ready to compete."
INSTANT 49ERS: A lot of what's been written about you is that you're a good fit for a 3-4 team. Do you see it that way, too?
GROVES: "I think I'm a good fit for every defense. I'm a football player. If I go to a 3-4 team or a 4-3 team, I'm there to play football. That's what I pride myself on. I don't try to label myself and say I'm this kind of player. I like to label myself as a football player, so I play any kind of defense."
INSTANT 49ERS: You had a trip a couple weeks ago to the Steelers. You spoke about wanting to be a Steeler. How would you feel if you don't go to the Steelers at No. 23?
GROVES: "I don't want to go to the Steelers. I just want to get that correct. It would be nice if I go to the Steelers because they're a great franchise and a great organization. But if I don't go, it won't be the end of my football career. Wherever I go, I'm going to give my 110-percent all. I'm going to be the best at what I do when I get there. I was a Steeler fan growing up."
INSTANT 49ERS: Do you go into this with any expectations of where you expect to go? Or do you keep an open mind and say whoever gets me is going to be a heck of a football player?
GROVES: "That's what I say, 'Whoever gets me is going to get a heck of a football player.' And whoever doesn't get me, I feel for them when I play against them."
INSTANT 49ERS: Do you need that kind of motivation? Do you thrive off of that?
GROVES: "I do, especially this time around. It's the NFL, and you had a chance to pick me and you didn't. So I feel that's a slap in the face."
INSTANT 49ERS: What did you use to motivate you in college?
GROVES: "I was a self-motivator. I motivated myself to be the best. That's what I wanted to do in college. If I was shooting marbles, I wanted to be the best marble-shooter around. I try to be the best at anything I do."
INSTANT 49ERS: You show a lot of emotion on the field. Obviously, it shows a passion for the game. . .
GROVES: "That's all it is. When you see me play, you see passion in my eyes. And when a guy lines up across from me, he knows he's going to get my best on every play. When I make a tackle and when I celebrate, the guys across me say, 'We got to stop this guy or he's going to be celebrating all night.' It's a mental thing as well as a physical thing."
INSTANT 49ERS: Did you line up on both sides last season more than you had in the past?
GROVES: "Yeah, I did."
INSTANT 49ERS: How did you like that?
GROVES: "It was OK. I mean, it's something my defensive coordinator (Will Muschamp) called for me to do, and I just did it. It was not a problem."
INSTANT 49ERS: Do you think at the next level, that's something that would carry over?
GROVES: "I think it will."
INSTANT 49ERS: What was it like to be a married man playing college football?
GROVES: "It was an added incentive. When you ask what motivated me, that's what motivated me more than anything. I had to provide for her. If I took off a play in college, then the NFL is going to see that and we can't take him because he takes plays off. That's taking food out of my wife's mouth. I have a family now so that's what motivates me to be the best I can be. I have to provide for my wife."
INSTANT 49ERS: Do you have any kids?
GROVES: "No, sir."
INSTANT 49ERS: Do you plan to start a family?
GROVES: "Every man wants to start a family. We plan on having two: a boy and a girl, if everything goes the way we want it to go."
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Some publications have painted a picture of Groves as a character risk. Groves said the questions about his past only came to light last spring when he divulged information to Blesto scouts.
INSTANT 49ERS: There's been some question about character. Is that an issue with teams?
GROVES: "I know it's not a question any more. Because if you look at the issues - when they say character - there were three incidents where they haven't found anything and I've never been arrested in my life. It's just something when the Blesto scouts came in in the spring, I told them me and my wife had a little argument, that's about it. What else? I got caught stealing a BB gun when I was 10 years old; and the other one was I had a car wreck without having insurance. It's not any bone-jarring things like me going out and beating up a woman or me trying to rob somebody or getting caught with marijuana or anything like that."
INSTANT 49ERS: Nothing was ever reported at the time, it was only because you divulged it on your own?
GROVES: "Yes, sir."
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Groves underwent a procedure March 27 to correct a heart condition known as WPW Syndrome. He believes news of the procedure can only help his draft status.
INSTANT 49ERS: When you went to the 49ers, did the subject of your heart procedure come up? Was that a big topic?
GROVES: "It wasn't. The trainer saw me downstairs eating lunch, and he came to me and said, 'Quentin, congratulations on getting your heart procedure done. That's one less thing we have to worry about.' So, I mean, that's all I've been getting from the teams is just positive feedback for me and my agent coming together and getting the heart procedure done."
INSTANT 49ERS: So from what you've gathered from the feedback, it'll have no impact whatsoever on where you go in the draft?
GROVES: "No, I think it should help me. Because now when Quentin Groves' name comes up, they don't have a health concern or a red flag. I think it should help me."
INSTANT 49ERS: Did the 49ers have you take a physical?
GROVES: "No, sir."
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NFLdraftscout.com makes a comparison on every draft-eligible player. The site compares Groves to Dallas' DeMarcus Ware. "Much like the Chargers' Shawne Merriman and Ware, Groves has that explosive quickness and outstanding suddenness to wreak havoc in the backfield. He is a perfect fit for a hybrid outside linebacker/rush end position in a 3-4 defensive scheme and like Merriman and Ware, he could thrive if allowed to play in a stand-up position."
INSTANT 49ERS: Is there a guy playing in the league that you think you compare with?
GROVES: "I'd probably say I compare well to DeMarcus Ware. He's a stout guy who plays the run and the pass as well as anyone, and Dwight Freeney, the way he gets off the ball."
INSTANT 49ERS: I looked up some numbers on Ware. Coming out of college, you're eight pounds heavier, a little bit faster and bench press more than he did. When you look at those numbers, do you think you can make that kind of impact in the NFL?
GROVES: "I think I can. All I need is a shot, and if a team gives me a shot, they're going to be glad they did."
INSTANT 49ERS: Do you read scouting reports from the (so-called) draft experts?
GROVES: "I do, but I don't pay attention to it. It's their job. They get paid to analyze and criticize people. They're just doing their jobs."
INSTANT 49ERS: Just wondering if there's any knock on you that you've read about that you think is far off base?
GROVES: "I'd probably say that I'm not strong at the point of attack. I read that in one scouting report. They said I wasn't strong at the point of attack. If you look at any game I've played in, I knocked 340-pound tackles 3 yards in the backfield on a reach block. So if that's not strong at the point of attack, I don't know what is."
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INSTANT 49ERS: You were off to a great start last season at Auburn, and then you had three dislocated toes? How did that happen?
GROVES: "I was getting up off the ground. I just made a tackle on the goal line and an offensive tackle fell on my foot."
INSTANT 49ERS: What did it feel like to have three dislocated toes?
GROVES: "I wish that pain on no man, I'll tell you what, I wish that pain on no man. I thought my foot was broken when I heard the crack. When they told me it was only three dislocated toes, I said, 'Thank you, Jesus.' "
INSTANT 49ERS: Did they pop back into place?
GROVES: "They popped them back in on site. That's all that happened with that."
INSTANT 49ERS: Is that the reason you didn't participate in the Senior Bowl?
GROVES: "No, I partially tore the AC joint in my right shoulder. That's why I didn't participate in the Senior Bowl."
INSTANT 49ERS: Is that something that was a disappointment to not go through that process of being coached by an NFL team?
GROVES: "I wanted to compete against the best in the country, and that's the best senior talent in the nation. I couldn't do it. I'm a competitor and I was mad when I couldn't do it."
INSTANT 49ERS: The 49ers coached in that game. They would've had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with you. But what do you think they learned about you yesterday?
GROVES: "He's a regular guy; he's a great guy. I think they learned that I'm smarter than most people think I am, football-wise as well as just regular smarts. I think they found that I can be a guy who can be a face for the franchise."
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