Quentin Groves, the defensive end-turned-linebacker from Auburn, will pay the 49ers a pre-draft visit one week from today, according to his agent. The 49ers are believed to be eying Groves for the Will linebacker spot that primarily provides the pass rush in the 49ersí 3-4 defense. Several 49ers evaluators, including GM Scot McCloughan, attended Grovesí pro-day workout at Auburn last month. Of course, with more and more teams playing a 3-4 these days, the 49ers arenít the only team interested. Groves will visit nine teams in the coming weeks: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Miami, San Francisco, New Orleans, New York Giants, New York Jets and New England Patriots.
Groves tied the career sack record at Auburn last season despite battling injuries (dislocated toes) and finishing with only three sacks in 2007. Heís intriguing to 3-4 teams like the 49ers because of his size-speed combination. At 255 or so pounds, he ran the 40 in an impressive 4.57 seconds at Februaryís combine. And perhaps even more eye-catching than that, he hoisted 225 pounds 30 times. That was one of the top showings for defensive ends, and the very best mark for linebackers.
In the mock drafts I have seen, Groves goes anywhere from the mid first round to the very end of the second. That makes me think that there are varying opinions of him from the teams around the league, which likely stems from his injury-marked senior season. Here is some additional information supplied by Grovesí agent (which explains why itís so gushing):
* Quentin Groves graduated from Auburn University as one of the top defensive players to ever play for the program. Quentin is an exceptional athlete and versatile player, which he displayed by playing both defensive end and linebacker during senior season at Auburn. Quentin was voted to the 1st team All SEC two years in a row and he holds the title for the most sacks in Auburn history.
* Quentin was forced to grow up fast in rural Greenville, Mississippi. His father was not involved in his life growing up as he was raised by his mother who was often dealing with her own personal issues. At a young age he learned to be self sufficient which motivated him to work hard at athletics. Quentin found football not only as an outlet for all of his energy, but also a sanctuary where he could forget about all of the other issues in his life and focus on the game he loved.
* During his college career at Auburn, Quentin matured faster than most of his teammates. Unlike almost every player in this yearís NFL Draft, Quentin has been married for almost two years to a former Auburn track star. His wife, Treska, supports him fully in his endeavor in the NFL. She is his biggest fan, but also his toughest critic. Treska has continued to motivate Quentin throughout the process of training for the NFL Combine and Auburn Pro Day.
* After the Peach Bowl, they moved to Atlanta where Quentin trained with fellow Auburn Defensive Lineman Pat Sims. He also trained with Tony Villani of XPE Sports in Roswell, Georgia for all his athletic drills in preparation for the Combine. Chuck Smith, the former Defensive End of the Atlanta Falcons, trained Quentin for the position drills and prepared him to be a better pass rusher at the next level. Smith worked with him on improving his moves and technique to complement his natural speed.
-- Matt Barrows