“It’s perfect timing and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”
Those were Shaquill Griffin’s words upon hearing that his twin brother Shaquem had been drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and would be joining him in the fight to give them a dominant defense once again.
The Griffin brothers played in relative obscurity at UCF — only drawing national attention after Shaquem won the conference Defensive Player of the Year and Shaquill became a third round pick of the Seahawks in 2017 — but now you know their story quite well. Shaquill had a great rookie campaign in 2017, finishing his season with 59 tackles and 15 passes defended. It’s likely we’ll see Shaquill at cornerback again next season, so where does this leave his twin brother?
Shaquem is about 15 lbs heavier than his brother and has speed ranging from “remarkable” to “very good” depending on who you ask. More than that, he can accelerate quickly off the snap and according to his draft profile, he looks to “punish as a hitter.” (Emphasis added)
Pete Carroll has made no secret of where he’d like to see Griffin’s skill set at work:
“We’re going to count on him to be a big factor on special teams, which he has shown us that he has a great knack for. We’re going to try to put him in spots where we can utilize the great speed that he has, and he’s as fast as you can get as a linebacker. I don’t think it’s going to throw us off that he’s that fast, but we’re anxious to see how it works and how it fits in with him chasing the football and all. We’ll see what happens from there.”
If Carroll is right about his knack for special teams, I can already see Griffin come flying down the field to absolutely level the kick returner, an attribute that Seattle fans are accustomed to with stand-out gunners from yesteryear like Ricardo Lockette. His hits are also very reminiscent of what Kam Chancellor brings to the table.
Just look at that speed and power at work against Auburn’s QB:
Shaquem Griffin might be the hardest working prospect I've seen. Just in this play, he starts out in coverage and runs to the complete opposite side to chase down and deliver a hard hit on the quarterback. #SteffenFilm pic.twitter.com/sOPq0cPIKm— Travis Steffen (@SteffenNFL) February 22, 2018
Shaquem finished his last season at UCF with 74 tackles and the previous year he had 92 when won the award for ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He won’t rack up more than 10 or so tackles on special teams, but they can sometimes be the difference in field position, and ultimately, the game.
While Shaquill only has one season in the NFL under his belt, he had some words of wisdom for his brother: “You’re a rookie, you pay your dues, and you play ball. That’s what you’re here for.”
Shaquill may not have much experience, but he has all the rookie experience that a player will ever achieve (aka one year in the league) and he ranked as one of the top five rookie cornerbacks in pass breakups and interceptions per PFF:
Three rookie cornerbacks had 15 combined interceptions and pass breakups in 2017. pic.twitter.com/0BHBi9CumO— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 17, 2018
If Shaquem is even remotely on the same trajectory as his brother, we could see him contribute to the defense earlier than expected and he could slot in at multiple positions, specifically as an extra pass rusher.
It’s likely that Shaquill will build off his positive rookie campaign as well and it will be exciting if and when we see the twins on the field at the same time.
Shaquill Griffin allowed a first down or touchdown on just 6-of-27 targets on critical downs (3rd/4th), which led all defenders with at least 20 targets on critical downs. #Seahawks— PFF SEA Seahawks (@PFF_Seahawks) June 6, 2018
Maybe the Legion of Boom won’t look quite the same as it did in the past, but with the Griffin brothers on the field in 2018 and beyond, there could be a different kind of power generating the defense to the levels Carroll is trying to reach again.
Wonder twin powers.