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2014 NFL Draft: A Conversation with Arizona State's Marion Grice

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Running back Marion Grice #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils rushes the football against the Wisconsin Badgers during the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

The 2014 NFL draft is a time when some of the nation's top collegiate prospects finally get to realize their dreams.

No matter what round they wind up being selected in, each of these young men deserve a chance to soak up the spotlight and celebrate with their family, friends and loved ones.

Arizona State running back Marion Grice gets to realize his dreams at a time when the position he plays has become "devalued."

Historically, the NFL has always had an infatuation with halfbacks.

Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and, more recently, Adrian Peterson are guys who will always be remembered as poster children of their respective eras.

But like everything else in life, things change.

Bernard was a second-round pick in 2013
Bernard was a second-round pick in 2013Al Behrman/Associated Press/Associated Press

Last year, for the first time since 1963, there wasn't a single running back selected in the first round of the draft—Giovani Bernard was the first guy to come off the board when the Cincinnati Bengals took him at pick No. 37.

Between the 2011 and 2012 draft, four tailbacks were drafted in Round 1. If the current projections hold up, that number will shrink to zero between 2013 at this year's soiree.

Don't tell that to Grice though.

The young man from Houston, Texas has plenty of ambition and a firm belief that he is exactly the type of runner teams can't live without.

During the two seasons he spent at Arizona State, Grice found a way to become the team's most effective weapon.

Rushing for 1,675 yards and 25 touchdowns on just 294 carries, the Sun Devils running back was always out there making defenders miss with his repertoire of video game-like moves.

Arizona St. Head Coach Todd Graham
Arizona St. Head Coach Todd GrahamMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

But it was his aptitude in the passing game that allowed him to make the biggest imprint on head coach Todd Graham's program.

Tallying 91 receptions for 863 yards and 14 scores in that same two-year span, Grice's versatility served as the catalyst of Graham's offense.

The question now becomes, how does Grice's savvy pass-catching expertise translate over to the NFL?

Bleacher Report's own Ryan Lownes threw in his two cents:

One of college football’s most versatile performers over the last two years, Marion Grice proved to be a Swiss army knife capable of pitching in on offense and special teams.

Though lacking elite speed or power, his north-south running style and ability to catch the ball set him apart from others in this class. He is sure to fall in the draft due to a late-season leg injury, but has the tools to become a valuable contributor in a backfield rotation

Leading up to the draft, I got a chance to talk to the talented Arizona State product about a wide range of topics. The result of our conversation is featured below.

 

What's your feeling on "experts" saying the running back position has become devalued?

Marion GricePeople are saying the position is devalued because of the passing game being such a large part of the game.

Doesn't bother me though, teams that win championships run the football. You have to be able to run the ball in December and January. 

 

How do you think your skill set helps you stand out from some of your peers?

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 19:  Running back Marion Grice #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts on the sides lines during the college football game against the Washington Huskies at Sun Devil Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defe
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

MG: I catch the ball like a wide receiver and I have really good vision.

I've also never really been hit, because of my playing style, so I have low mileage on my wheels. Some of these guys have 650 carries in two seasons. I have that in four seasons. 

 

Being drafted has to be an incredible feeling. Growing up, what running backs did you look up to?

MG: I've always just been a fan of the game and I've tried to take pieces from every great's game that I grew up watching.

Right now, I like Matt Forte and Arian Foster. And of course, AP (Adrian Peterson).

 

If you could describe your game to fans in two words, what would those words be?

MG: Naturally smooth.

 

Going off topic for a second, I'm going to name three teams. Tell me who you would root for. New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox or the Arizona Diamondbacks?

MG: Not a baseball guy but Derek Jeter is an icon. New York Yankees.

 

I have to ask, who's the best athlete in this year's draft?

MG: Since I can't pick myself, Sammy Watkins from Clemson.

 

Who do you think is the top quarterback prospect in the entire class?

MG: Teddy Bridgewater and David Fales.

 

Finally, in five years, Marion Grice will be...?

MG: A Pro Bowler.

 

 

All 2014 draft projections provided by NFLDraftScout.com (viaCBSSports.com), unless noted otherwise. All CFB stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com unless noted otherwise. NFL draft history via NFL.com.

 


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