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Player Analysis: Rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin shines early

Shaquill Griffin was drafted in the 3rd round with the 90th pick of the 2017 draft with a view to taking the RCB position from Jeremy Lane in time. Due to the nature of the position he plays, few collegiate players are ready to start week 1, especially with the Seahawks who teach complex techniques that few can successfully deliver on the field. If there’s one position group the Seahawks evaluate talent well above league average at, its cornerback. Most draft experts had Seattle taking a corner in the first round, however that pick was traded twice resulting in an early second round pick and multiple mid rounder’s.

So how has Shaq performed to date? Let’s take a look…

In week 1, following Jeremy Lane’s ejection from the game for (allegedly) punching a Packers player, Griffin was thrown in at the deep end with no arm bands. In total he took 46 snaps, was targeted 9 times and gave up 6 receptions for 52 yards. Not bad at all for his first outing in a Seahawks uniform. He wasn’t in the game plan at all so his performance demonstrates he is mentally tough and can overcome curveballs.

Week 2 against the 49ers saw Jeremy Lane taking the majority of snaps away from Griffin as he was only on the field for 14 snaps, giving up 1 reception for 5 yards.

Week 3 vs the Titans saw his snap count rise to 25, a sign that coaches were starting to trust him and that his performances in practice could translate to competency on the field. The Seahawks very much adopt a bend-don’t-break mentality and are happy giving up minimal yards as long as everything is kept in front of them, explosive plays are seen as the devil to this team and they do everything to avoid it as deep plays directly correlate to losses, not to mention the mental hit giving up big passes does to the defense.

Week 4 was where his snap count really rose, due to Jeremy Lanes hip injury in the opening minute of the 1st quarter, Justin Coleman actually took over his snaps initially however was moved to the slot in nickel downs sliding Shaq to the outside, he took 33 snaps in total giving up 4 receptions on 5 targets for a total of 41 yards and a TD. Probably his worst outing yet but let’s not forget he is a rookie who is very much in ‘learning mode’. Given he sits right in-between Richard Sherman and Pete Carroll in meetings, his development is going to skyrocket at an impressive pace, I guarantee it.

Week 5 vs the Rams was much of the same as week 4, taking 33 snaps and giving up a total of 58 yards on 6 receptions, although he was picked on by Jared Goff in this game who threw it his way 11 times. Nearly a 50% incompletion ratio isn’t bad.

Where Griffin really stepped up and showed his potential though, was in week 7 against the Giants. He gave up just 17 yards on 3 receptions and was targeted 8 times. That’s the sort of stats you’d expect from Richard Sherman, not a third-round rookie in the first half of the season.

Looking at the chart below, you can see Shaquill Griffin is the best ranked corner per ProFootballFocus with an overall grade of 80.1, that’s impressive.

He is also ranked 38th amongst all CB’s in the league, ahead of Richard Sherman (43rd).

Yesterday saw Jeremy Lane take to twitter on a couple of ranting tweets insinuating he’s been benched so it seems Griffin has taken the starting RCB position moving forwards. Given his performance through 6 games it was likely an easy decision to let the rookie grow into his role early, gain more snaps and develop behind one of the leagues best secondary’s.

He is easily the third best cornerback of the Pete Carroll era behind Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and I’d certainly listen to arguments that he’s the second best already, given his short NFL career so far it’s safe to say the front office absolutely hit this pick out of the park and will most definitely develop into one of the most feared backs amongst quarterbacks. With Sherman and Griffin covering the outside thirds of the field, just where do you successfully pass on this team? I’m excited, that’s for sure!

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