When the original list of NFL Combine invites was released, Shaquem Griffin was not on it. Griffin is a linebacker who played football for UCF, but he’s not just any linebacker. He’s a linebacker who doesn’t have a left hand. Perhaps the main reason why Griffin was left off the original list is just that.
After having a great week at the Senior Bowl, the mistake to leave Griffin off the list was corrected. Today was Griffin’s time to prove once again that he can overcome everyone’s doubt. His combine performance did nothing but smash expectations. First, Griffin put up 20 reps on the bench press. He wasn’t a top performer in this category, but he definitely competed with the others in the group, even beating a handful of them.
Benching 225lbs 20 times was an impressive start, but Griffin wasn’t even close to done. On his first attempt running the 40-yard dash, Griffin ran a 4.38. If scouts eyes weren’t already on him, they were now. This was the fastest time for a linebacker since 2003. Griffin ran a 4.58 on his second attempt running the 40, but that’s still impressive for someone his size.
Griffin still wasn’t done impressing scouts. He went through position drills where he showed good change of direction and the ability to catch the ball. There were some drops on catch attempts, which was to be expected, but the fact that he can do it is impressive. Griffin showed every NFL team what they wanted to see from him and more. This was the kind of performance that matched his production at UCF.
In 2016, Griffin had 92 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 1 INT, 7 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. In 2017, Griffin had 74 tackles, 13.5 for loss, 7 sacks, 1 INT, 3 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. With a dominating performance at the NFL Combine, Griffin showed us all why those numbers are no fluke.
Shaquem Griffin put his name in the NFL Draft conversation. Griffin will be drafted. I don’t think he goes in the first or second round. I’d day he’s got himself in the round 3 conversation at best and round 4 at worst, but that’s a huge win for a guy who didn’t even get invited to the NFL Combine the first time around.
It’s likely that Griffin will start out playing special teams and have to work his way up. I don’t think it will take long for him to do that. Even if Griffin doesn’t become a starting linebacker in the NFL, I’d want him on my team. A guy who works harder and plays harder than anyone else is always going to be a guy I want on my team, and I’m willing to bet there are several NFL teams who feel the same way.
Whoever drafts Shaquem Griffin is getting one heck of a player. He’s an athlete, a sack artist, an edge rusher, a producer. Call him what you want. Every NFL team should target Shaquem Griffin if they want to get better. As of right now, Griffin is a feel good story, but he has the potential to be so much more than that. I can’t wait to follow Griffin’s journey through the NFL.