Shaquem Griffin is an inspirational story for the ages. Despite being born with a congenital disorder that led to him having his left hand amputated when he was young, he persevered to play and excel at the sport he loved. He played at an elite level in college his junior and Senior seasons, after not having much of a chance by the previous coaching staff at University of Central Florida.
The UCF linebacker went on to be a Second-Team All-American and inspired a great number of people nationwide. It seems as if everyone that hears his story is rooting for him to do well in the NFL.
The question remains if he can excel at the professional level despite his disability. There is no doubt that he has the determination to do it but will the Jacksonville Jaguars take a chance on him?
The most outstanding take from Griffin’s combine was his 40 yard dash, he finished with a time of 4.38 seconds. That is the fastest time for any linebacker since 2003. To put it into perspective, he had a faster time than Telvin Smith (4.52 seconds), who is widely regarded as one of the fastest linebackers in the NFL. He also had a bench press result of 20 reps while using a prosthetic hand to assist him.
While it wasn’t eye-opening, the determination that this man shows is off the charts and some teams will salivate for that. His broad jump result of 117 inches also wasn’t that great, but good enough that teams will not shy away from him.
How he fits
For the case of the Jaguars there are many ways he can fit on this team. It’s reported that the Jaguars met with Griffin and may look at him as a future potential starter at outside linebacker. He has many strengths to his game. He is a tremendous athlete who is in full pursuit every play. The speed he has helps him to be a great pass rusher and helps him beat some tackles off the edge. Griffin uses the strength he has to punish as a hitter. Griffin has the talent to play 3-4 inside linebacker or 4-3 outside linebacker at the next level.
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The thing that helps Griffin more than anything is his character. There were many times in his collegiate career he considered not playing football anymore. Regardless, he persevered through it and when he finally got his chance, he shined. Teams are always looking for people that can influence their locker room presence. With his story, how can it not rub off on the rest of his teammates.
How he doesn’t fit
While Griffin is a great athlete, there are some limitations he has due to his disability. He has a smaller margin for error as a tackler because he can’t wrap up players as easily. He also needs to approach tackling with more knee bend to finish plays and often tackles higher than he should.
Griffin can also have a hard time disengaging from blocks due to his not so large frame. He needs to build mass and more lower body strength or he will not exceed in the NFL. Despite these weaknesses, he only had four missed tackles.
Analysts can see the Jaguars drafting Griffin if he falls to the right spot for them in the draft. He could fill the spot opposite of Telvin Smith or as depth for the linebacker position. The Jaguars have a very close knit locker room and adding Griffin would expand that. Tom Coughlin values players that have ability as well as leadership potential.
A team like the Jaguars are in love with Griffin and his story but won’t take a chance on him before the third round. If that is the case, Griffin would likely end up picked beforehand due to the inspiration he draws from the media. A team will pull the trigger if they believe he can be a star. He will be an automatic fan favorite for whichever franchise claims him.