What Can Shaquem Griffin Do For The Seattle Seahawks This Year?

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Shaquem Griffin has been a huge talking point around the league since the NFL Combine invite snub and his subsequent performance at the combine. Then he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks who happen to have Shaquem’s brother Shaquil on the team. This is all from a guy who only has one hand. His left arm ends at his wrist. But he was the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, and he was a huge factor on UCF’s defense last year when they went undefeated.

I am looking at what impact he could have for the Seahawks this year. I am looking at it from the best he could do to the worst he could do.

Optimistic

Griffin has the football IQ, the hustle and the natural athletic ability to excel on special teams. He ran a 4.38 second forty-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the fastest ever by a linebacker more than 220 pounds. This shows how he can cover a lot of ground and possibly could find a fit as a gunner on the punt team. I think we will see him throughout the season lining up on different special-team units because you want playmakers on the field at all times and Griffin is a playmaker.

He could also get playing time on defense. He was used as a pass rusher more than you would expect in college and he was very productive. This could translate to the Seahawks and he could be used to get pressure on the quarterback and bend the edges. But, I think where he is going to excel is in K.J. Wright’s role as the off ball weakside linebacker. Even in passing downs where you want three linebackers I could see him performing well in zone coverage against wide receivers. His speed and intelligence let him make decisions quickly, diagnose where the ball is going and then fly over there and attack the ball.

You have probably seen the clip of him picking off Russell Wilson at training camp this year. Wilson throws a quick 5-yard hook route to his left slot receiver and Griffin appears out of nowhere to jump in front of the receiver and pick the ball off. That is a play many people cannot make because of how fast you have to see the pass, the receiver and then actually run over to him and make a play. Griffin could be a special player like his brother.

Pessimistic

Griffin was a 230-pound linebacker in college who won with a lot of speed. He is being asked to play behind K.J. Wright, who is half of the NFL’s best linebacking tandem, I don’t see him getting a lot of playtime instead of Wright. Griffin could be asked to rush the passer for Seattle, he was exceptional at pressuring the quarterback in college, but that is a tough transition to the NFL. He will have to go against people that are much more athletic than college players and who will all be stronger than him. His reliance on his speed rush will not translate well and he needs to come up with a more complete set of pass-rushing moves.

He can definitely fly around, but will he continue to progress on a mental level, so he can make plays instead of mistakes? That is the main question facing Shaquem this year, can he duplicate what he did in college, and can he improve. He needs to work on his block-shedding, his tackling and his zone coverage to fit into Seattle’s defense. He needs to learn how to play with the huge spotlight on him where people are scrutinizing everything he does now. Some people are waiting for him to fail.

Conclusion

He is an exciting prospect on a team that does not feel pressure to play him right away. Shaquem is a polarizing figure and a feel-good story. I believe he is a very good football player who is willing to learn and with his twin already on the team I think he can fast track a lot of the mental preparation.

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About Author

Tim Kearny

I am a Seattle based sports writer who has lived in Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Washington. I love writing about sports, football in particular. Seattle is home and I love the Northwest. If you like the articles or don’t like them, let me know on Twitter. If you keep reading them you will start noticing I like talking about movies and stuff too.

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