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2018 NFL Draft scouting reports: UCF EDGE Shaquem Griffin

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Sosa Kremenjas takes a look at a potential target for the Los Angeles Rams on Day 2 of the draft.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Auburn v Central Florida Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If you’re looking for an inspirational story, look no further than UCF OLB Shaquem Griffin. Obviously it’s been well known that Griffin only has one hand, but his play suggests there is no disadvantage to his game.

Griffin is a undersized tweener at 6’0” tall and 227 lbs. He can line up at any LB spot in a 3-4 but is best used as an OLB. His versatility is his best ability as he is able to rush the passer, play the run, and drop into coverage all equally well.

His stats in 2017 weren’t anything mind-blowing, but he totaled 74 tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, and one interception. His twin brother Shaquill Griffin was drafted 90th overall in the 2017 Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

Let’s jump right into the tape:

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This clip here demonstrates where Griffin excels the most in my opinion. He’s lined up at ILB and his only job on this play is to be the QB spy. He was timed as the fastest LB in combine history when he ran a 4.38 forty and it shows. His closing speed and pursuit might be the best of any player in this class, even rivaling Georgia ILB Roquan Smith.

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Here’s another example in the same game. As soon as the QB begins to scramble outside of the pocket Griffin turns on the jets and closes as quick as possible. He forces a throw away by the QB.

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Another huge part of Griffin’s game is his inability to quit on a play. He simply doesn’t understand the concept. On this snap his initial rush was shut down with ease, but not only that, the LT got help from his LG who launched Griffin back a few yards. That didn’t deter Griffin though as he recovered and ultimately ended the play sacking the QB.

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Now we get to see what Griffin looks like when he’s rushing the passer. The speed rush is easily Griffin’s go-to move as he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else as a pass rusher. The rush works on occasion, but even when it doesn’t he can apply pressure or get the QB to step up in the pocket. On a team like the Los Angeles Rams, that would pay major dividends when you have Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh rushing up the middle.

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As you can see in this clip, Griffin’s pass rushing prowess is predicated on his speed rush. As the OT over-sets preparing for Griffin’s speed off the edge, he uses an up-and-under to cross the Tackles face for an easy sack.

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This clip may not look like much but it’s exactly where Griffin is going to make his money in the league. First, leaving him unblocked was just a terrible decision by the offense. He’s too fast and too determined for a pitch to work. The NFL defense which uses him properly will have so much speed infused into their defense that plays like this are simply going to be negated. As offense’s continue to try and spread the field and let players play in open space, guys like Griffin are becoming more and more prevalent in the league to help counteract that.

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I don’t think Griffin will necessarily be an issue in run support either as evidenced in this clip. Sure it’ll be harder for him to get his hand on an offensive lineman/tight end and maneuver, but his power and will here destroys the TE attempting to block him. He does a tremendous job setting the edge on this play and forcing the RB to stay inside instead of bouncing the run outside.

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The pursuit, closing speed, and just sheer will on this play is once again evident. No offensive player pays any attention to Griffin who is the backside defender. He is so fast that he reaches the RB before the play is past him which is the design. Obviously the play doesn’t work as Griffin chases the play from behind.

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This play might actually be my favorite of the bunch. In today’s NFL this type of play translates all too well. When you have Russell Wilson in your division, and have to beat QB’s like Carson Wentz and Cam Newton in your conference, there’s a definite spot for a guy who can counter this. On a zone read, Griffin plays the angle so well that the QB has no choice but to keep the ball. Unfortunately for the QB, that’s irrelevant as well because of Griffin’s closing speed and pursuit ability.

After we’ve taken a look at the actual footage, we can take a look at my notes watching on Griffin:

  • Perfect QB spy/overhang defender
  • Plays with serious urgency, never quits on a play
  • Solid speed rush, plays faster than everyone else
  • Strength in the run game, elite pursuit and closing speed
  • Super high character guy
  • Can drop in coverage, incredibly athletic

Griffin is going to be one of the most controversial topics in the draft, even though it isn’t his fault. We’ve truly never seen anything like this before in the NFL Draft so it’s hard to predict where he might go or what the NFL thinks of him. But one thing is for certain: the lack of a hand isn’t going to stop Shaquem Griffin from being productive.