Davis: Shaq Griffin Can Be Full-Time Linebacker

Griffin is more than a good story; he's an impact player in the NFL

Tiki and Tierney
April 30, 2018 - 6:14 pm

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Shaquem Griffin was one of the best stories of the NFL Draft this past weekend, as he became the first one-handed player ever drafted. Seattle selected him in the fifth round with the 141st overall pick.

Griffin was a two-time First Team All-AAC selection and last year had 13.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 7.0 sacks for a UCF squad that went undefeated. But can he play linebacker in the NFL?

NFL on FOX and NFL Network analyst Charles Davis says yes.

“People forget football is a game like basketball, but it’s a little bit different in terms of matchups because you have to get people on the field in order to get them,” Davis said on Tiki and Tierney. “In basketball, if you substitute in, you’ve got a couple times up and down the court to exploit them. On a given play in football, that’s why you have the substitution.”

And Griffin, Davis said, can be a mismatch.

“He’s got to play special teams. We know that,” Davis said. But (the Seahawks are) going to want to utilize him in a variety of roles. Here’s what I see early: nickel/dime linebacker, be on the field in pass (downs) because of his ability to run and cover. He’s a former safety. And when they want to bring him, he can bring some edge pressure as an extra guy. The other part of it is I think he can cover the back side of the backfield when you want to do that, and if you have a mobile quarterback you decide to spy, he’s an ideal guy to do that – because he’s big enough to also handle some run-game stuff.”

While Griffin could struggle in certain situations, especially early in his career, Davis believes he’ll find a way to stay on the field.

“At 6-2, 227, it’s going to be tough for him to be an every-down edge rusher because those big 320-pound tackles, they can just lock those arms up and steer him around a lot,” Davis said. “But I think over time as he develops and gets a little bulkier, he can ultimately become a full-time linebacker.”

In other NFL Draft news, quarterbacks flew off the board early and often last Thursday, with five getting selected in the first round, including four in the top 10 picks. There was a reason for that – two, in fact: this year’s class was really good, and next year’s class, well, isn’t. 

At least as of now.

Top options next year include Missouri’s Drew Lock, Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson, and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

“As we sit here right now – and we know that this can change,” Davis prefaced. “But as we sit here right now, if we were to (rank) any of those guys from (the 2019) class . . . with this year’s class, not a single one of them would we be talking about ahead of these guys.”