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Shaquem Griffin Could Be a Team Culture-Changing NFL Draft Pick

UCF in the NFL Draft

Shaquem Griffin showed NFL scouts and coaches Thursday that he can do more than sack quarterbacks.

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Photo: Derek Warden)
Shaquem Griffin showed NFL scouts and coaches Thursday that he can do more than sack quarterbacks. ))990))))) Photo: Derek Warden)

We all know the national story angle by now about Shaquem Griffin: He's the kid from UCF with one hand:

But within the UCF community, we know better.

We know Shaquem is a hell of a football player. We know him as the crux of the Knights' defense the last two years. We know him not as a guy who has overcome having one hand to play college football, but as a guy who wreaks absolute havoc wherever he is on the field.

So that's how we're going to treat his draft preview.

Shaquem Griffin

Linebacker

Griffin's career at UCF began innocuously enough. He and his twin brother Shaquill were a package deal, and George O'Leary made it. Griffin started out as a defensive back, but after redshirting in 2013, he couldn't get higher than the second team and played sparingly in his redshirt freshman year, mostly on special teams.

Griffin appeared in 11 games in 2015, playing safety and on special teams. Still, it appeared his career was stuck in neutral, and he even got moved down to the third team on the depth chart.

Then George O'Leary got fired and Scott Frost showed up, and Griffin took advantage of his newfound opportunity with the new staff. He worked himself into the starting lineup and proceeded to lay waste to the American Athletic Conference.

He was named the AAC's Defensive Player of the Year after racking up 92 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, six passes defended, two fumbles forced, two fumble recoveries and an interception. His best game came against Houston when he racked up 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception.

By 2017, playing without his twin brother for the first time, the secret was out, and teams recognized they had to get a body on Shaquem at all times. But while his season numbers dipped, he had bulked up in the weight room and set about being an even greater threat in his senior year. The result was his second consecutive First Team All-AAC selection and numerous other accolades. In his final game as a Knight in the Peach Bowl Griffin had his best performance, with 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks:

Measurables

  • Height: 6' 1"
  • Weight: 227 pounds
  • 40 Time: 4.38
  • Bench Press (225 pounds): 20

Stats

Year Team Gms Solo Tkls Ast Total Tkls TFL Sacks INT PD FF/FR TD
2013 UCF REDSHIRT (2 solo tackles in one game)
2014 UCF 2 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0/0 0
2015 UCF 11 18 7 25 0 0 1 6 1/0 0
2016 UCF 13 57 35 92 20 11.5 1 7 2/2 0
2017 UCF 13 43 31 74 13.5 7.0 1 3 2/2 1

Honors

  • 2016 AAC Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2016 & 2017 All-AAC First Team
  • 2016 AAC Leader in Sacks (10th in FBS)
  • 2017 Senior CLASS Award
  • 2017 All-American Second Team
  • 2018 Peach Bowl Defensive MVP

UCF Highlights

Scouting Combine Workout

UCF Pro Day

Outlook

All things considered, Griffin has proved himself on tape to the scouts. His 40 speed was the fastest ever recorded at the NFL Combine for a player listed as a linebacker, and his 20 benchpress reps with a prosthetic hand were the stuff of YouTube legend.

His speed may lend himself to a move back to safety, depending on which system he lands in, but in an era when run/pass options and other fast break schemes are making their way to NFL offenses, speed is becoming a greater asset than size in linebackers.

Even more than his on-field ability has been his off-field character. Griffin is a born leader and genuine guy who can change the culture of a locker room, as he helped to do for UCF two years ago. He also has all the tools to be a fan favorite wherever he lands.

Projection

Possible Day 2, but more likely early Day 3.

  • Mark Lindquist (Rotoworld): Round 4, Pick #105 Overall (Bears)
  • Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com): Round 5
  • Albert Breer (SI.com): Round 4
  • Peter King (MMQB): Round 3/4
  • Jenny Vrentas (SI.com): Round 3
  • Luke Easterling (USA Today): Round 3, Pick #93 (Jaguars)

Teams to Watch

Seahawks, Jaguars, Packers, Lions

Next up: Jordan Akins

Previously: Mike Hughes, Tre'Quan Smith