Regular readers are well aware that we are slowly working our way through grading each of the nine draft picks the Seattle Seahawks made in 2018 using the benefit of a season of hindsight. We have already made it two thirds of the way through the grading process, having already finished looking at the selections of
- First round running back Rashaad Penny,
- Third round defensive end Rasheem Green,
- Seventh round quarterback Alex McGough,
- Sixth round defensive end Jacob Martin,
- Fifth round tackle Jamarco Jones and
- Fifth round Pro Bowl punter Michael Dickson.
Now we move to the third of four fifth round selections the Seahawks held in 2018, and take a look at linebacker Shaquem Griffin. Hopefully I don’t have to go into great detail about the fact that teammate Shaquill Griffin is his twin brother, and the two are back playing together once again after the 2017 season represented the first season they did not play on the same team. Having been teammates first at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, FL and then together at the University of Central Florida for four years, where Shaquem redshirted for the 2013 season while Shaquill did not. (Author’s note: Just in case you were wondering how competitive high school football in Florida is, as Juniors in 2011 at Lakewood the Griffin twins were teammates with Dante Fowler of the Los Angeles Rams on a team that went 7-4 according to MaxPreps.)
Getting back to Shaquem’s 2018 performance for the Seahawks, however, he did not get nearly the playing time on defense as some might have expected, but did play a significant role on special teams. The Hawks used Shaquem extensively on special teams, and by the end of the season only six other Hawks had accumulated more special teams snaps. On those special teams snaps he recorded five tackles, while adding another four tackles on defense, three of which were solo tackles with the last one a small assist coming from Rasheem Green.
And that brings us to the discussion of Griffin’s play on defense. Shaquem was a tackling machine for the Hawks defense during the preseason, wracking up 26 tackles, including a total of 17 in the two games against the Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts, however, it wasn’t all good.
Man Shaquem Griffin's pursuit angle issue showing up big time when it matters. Warning signs were there all pre-season.— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) September 9, 2018
That tweet from Field Gulls’ own Matty F. Brown came on the day the Seahawks played against the Denver Broncos in a disappointing season opening loss, which was the only game of the season in which Shaquem started. In fact, it wasn’t just the only game he started, it ended up as the game in which he saw the majority of the defensive snaps he played all season. Here’s a table showing his defensive snap count by game over the course of the 2018 season.
Shaquem Griffin 2018 defensive snap count log by game
|5||Los Angeles Rams||0|
|9||Los Angeles Chargers||0|
|10||Los Angeles Rams||0|
|11||Green Bay Packers||0|
|13||San Francisco 49ers||0|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||0|
|16||Kansas City Chiefs||5|
Now, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to be able to analyze that data. Most anyone should be able to figure out that a player who was healthy and active for all 16 games and recorded 41 defensive snaps while starting Week 1 and subsequently went on to finish the season with a total of 50 defensive snaps likely didn’t play very well in that Week 1 start. Obviously the data does not shed any light on the why, and that’s what the tape is for, which is why it’s fantastic to have someone like Matty around so that he can watch the tape and I can simply piggyback off his phenomenal work.
In any case, as a fifth round pick Shaquem’s ability to come in and be a special teams contributor is significant. Maybe through experience and development he can address the pursuit angle issues that showed up, and perhaps he can one day develop into a starting linebacker at the NFL level. Even if he does not however, he has already proven that he can certainly fill a role as a core member of special teams units, while serving as depth at the linebacker position.
Thus, even if he never develops into a starting caliber linebacker, there’s nothing wrong with a fifth round pick developing into the next Mike Morgan, D.J. Alexander, Heath Farwell or any other depth linebacker across the NFL who is also a special teams standout.
Griffin has shown he can be a contributor in the NFL, and going forward he should have plenty of opportunity to develop more of his game. Where does that leave the Seahawks grade for the pick?
How do you grade the Seahawks selection of Shaquem Griffin in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft?
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