Many fans of the Seattle Seahawks were ecstatic when the team selected Shaquem Griffin out of the University of Central Florida with pick 141 in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, had played well for the Seahawks as a rookie in 2017, and Shaquem brought youth and speed to the team’s aging linebacker group. The hope was that not only could Shaquem develop into a replacement at one of the linebacker positions, but that he could also develop into an edge rusher after having recorded 18.5 sacks during his final two years in college.
As a rookie in 2018 Shaquem earned the right to start in place of an injured K.J. Wright in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos, but his performance was not great, and he would go on to play only nine more defensive snaps over the remainder of the season. However, he would play a significant role on special teams, logging 225 snaps, which was good for seventh on the team.
Up until the Week 10 game against the San Francisco 49ers, he had yet to set foot on the field for a defensive snap, but that changed early in the second quarter. However, with the Niners facing 3rd & 8 with 14:20 left in the second quarter, the Seahawks rolled out a defensive front that included Griffin as an edge rusher from the left end of the line. It was a grouping the team would use 14 times over the course of the game, with one of the times a false start being called before a play was run. Thus, Griffin got to put 13 snaps of rushing the passer from the edge on tape, and the obvious question everyone wanted answered was, “How did he look?”
The short version of that is that he basically looked like an edge rusher who had been on the bench and not used by the team for a reason. His speed, quickness and agility jump off the tape, and it is immediately apparent that in any kind of foot race he would destroy 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey. However, what is also readily apparent is that he’s relatively light for an edge rusher, and he plays light. McGlinchey was often able to bump Griffin off his pass rush or push him to the ground, and even on the occasions when Shaquem could get around, the ball was often out before it made any kind of difference.
Without creating too much of an impression, I’ll let you guys decide for yourselves how Griffin looked in his first significant defensive action since Week 1 of 2018.
All 14 of Shaquem Griffin's defensive snaps against the 49ers (13 snaps rushing the passer and one blown dead before it began on a false start). pic.twitter.com/gNjcDw4UOV— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) November 18, 2019
Griffin wasn’t credited with generating any pressures for his efforts, though some fans have argued that he pressured Jimmy Garoppolo on the third clip in that sequence. However, I don’t believe he got close enough to Garoppolo for it to be considered a pressure, and even if he did, it was only after Jimmy G. had spent 3.8 seconds in the pocket surveying the field.
So, fans have finally gotten a glimpse of one of the things they have been clamoring for, and it will certainly be interesting to see how the pass rush rotations are set up going forward. The Hawks are desperate for help in the pass rush department, and with the team not getting much out of either Ziggy Ansah or L.J. Collier, there are snaps up for grabs on that Griffin could claim if he can show production.