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Photo credit : AP /Willie J. Allen Jr.

Against all odds

Shaquem Griffin is no longer the unknown linebacker at the University of Central Florida. An unbeaten 2017 season by the UCF Knights and an extraordinary appearance at the 2018 Scouting Combine has made Griffin a recognisable name far outwith his native Florida.

Make no bones about it, Griffin has what it takes to play in the NFL.

And yet Shaquem Griffin’s invite to the Combine came late. When I first started writing this article it was with outrage that Griffin would not get invited to the Combine. But he did. And he let the world know just how determined he is to join his twin bother Shaquille playing in the NFL.

Being the well read NFL’ers you all are, you have already seen Shaquem Griffin’s combine sessions. If you haven’t I suggest you youtube them now. If nothing else it will make you jump out of bed on a Monday morning with a renewed zest for life.

Shaq’s bench press session was the stuff from which legends are made and it forced NFL GM’s to sit up and take notice. His interviews went even better and GM’s sat higher in their chairs. Oh and he can run. Griffin was the only +225lbs player to run a sub 4.4 40. That my friends was the fastest time ever clocked by a Linebacker in Combine history.

None of this comes as a surprise if you watched Griffin last year at UCF.

However, he didn’t start in his first two seasons in Orlando.

It wasn’t until Scott Frost took the head coach job at UCF that Frost and Linebackers Coach, Jovan Dewitt noticed Griffin’s speed which would be ideal in their change to a 3-4 defence. The move was transformational for Griffin and the Knights. In 2016 Griffin was named the AC Defensive Player of the Year. In 2017 UCF remained undefeated throughout their season, only to be controversially omitted from the College Football Play-off’s.

During the Combine the Cardinals, Vikings and Seahawks were the most vocal in their praise of Shaq’s performance. Seattle is the most likely starting point for Griffin’s NFL career. His twin Shaquill is already there and 2017 was the only year since birth that the two have been separated. To help matters Pete Carroll’s record at USC of picking and playing young players based purely on their ability to play football makes it likely that another Griffin gets to play football in Seattle.

The hot topic of debate is where in the draft should he be taken. Folks are unsure where he fits. He can’t be easily pigeon holed. Griffin has been called everything from a controversial (really?) to a bargain pick. Depending on which expert mock drafter you read, 4th round is possible. His brother was picked #90 in Philadelphia by the Hawks. But Shaquill did not have as memorable a final year as Shaquem has just had. Does Shaq Griffin care? Of course he does and don’t tell me he doesn’t want to get picked before #89.

Interestingly his official NFL prospect grade has him as potential Backup or Special Teams. I’m sure that has him fired up even more. Recently  both the Rams and Dolphins have registered their interest, so I don’t think he will be short of suitors.

I never intended this to be a long article. I wanted everyone to know that Shaq Griffin is a great player, worthy of a shot at the combine. He didn’t need mine or anybody else’s help. He is a great player, had a great Combine and I suspect will have a career in the NFL. I hope its a long one.

I also have no intention of singling out why Griffin is different from other players. If you haven’t come across him yet, go watch his film. And be impressed.





Photo credit : AP /Willie J. Allen Jr.

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