During each show until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” is counting down the 20 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. The countdown continued with rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin. The segment on Griffin is embedded above. Brady Henderson’s thoughts are below.
From Richard Sherman to Walter Thurmond to Byron Maxwell to Jeremy Lane, the Seahawks have had quite a bit of success drafting and developing cornerbacks under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. But for each of those players, that development took some time. None of those four, nor any of the other cornerbacks Seattle has drafted since 2010, began his rookie season as a starter or even a regular contributor (recall that Sherman became a starter midway through his rookie season after injuries pushed him up the depth chart). Shaquill Griffin has a chance to become the first. One of Seattle’s third-round picks, Griffin is vying to start opposite Sherman at right cornerback, where Seattle has an opening with DeShawn Shead expected to miss the start of the season while he makes his way back from knee surgery. The way Seattle’s coaches have talked about Griffin suggests he’s a legitimate contender for the job, even if Lane is the presumed favorite and players like Neiko Thorpe and DeAndre Elliott have more experience. That will be the top competition at training camp, and as such, Griffin will be one of the most important players to watch when the Seahawks get going on Sunday. The key for him will be mastering the Seahawks’ style of play at cornerback, which hasn’t always come easy for the uninitiated.
By the numbers
No. 90. The spot where Seattle selected Griffin, which makes him the highest-drafted Seahawks cornerback under Carroll and Schneider. All seven of the cornerbacks they drafted from 2010 to 2016 were taken in the fourth round or later. Something to keep in mind with Griffin’s draft slot is that this was considered an especially good year for cornerbacks. If the talent pool at that position wasn’t so deep, it’s entirely conceivable that Griffin could have been selected much earlier.
36. Passes defended by Griffin during his four years at Central Florida. That’s the second-most in school history behind former Patriots and Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowl selection. Griffin was a full-time starter for two seasons and recorded seven interceptions.
4.38 seconds. Griffin’s time in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, which was the fourth-fastest among cornerbacks. That’s excellent speed, especially for someone listed at 6 feet 1 and 198 pounds. Griffin’s arms measure 32 3/8 inches, which meets what seem to be some pretty particular specifications for Seahawks cornerbacks. “He’s just our kind of DB,” Schneider said after drafting Griffin.
The Seahawks went out of their way during OTAs and minicamp to avoid another violation of the NFL’s rules regarding offseason contact. That seemed to affect their cornerbacks more than any other position. They didn’t jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, jostle for position with them or so much as contest balls in the air. That left Seattle’s coaches with much less to evaluate from the offseason program, which will make training camp especially important for the cornerbacks competing to start. Carroll mentioned that while praising Griffin: “He’s been really diligent. He’s real fast. Technique-wise, it’s not hard for him to make it look right. Camp will be huge for him. None of the DBs were able to compete at the ball throughout this whole offseason, so we don’t see any of that. We have no evaluation on those guys. They can’t make a play on the ball unless it’s thrown right to them. So they have a lot to show still when they come back.”
Defensive coordinator Kris Richard on Griffin: “He’s got probably one of the best corner minds that we’ve had for a young guy around here. That’s just in regards to leverage, positioning, the understanding of our coverages and where we need him to be. He has picked it up fairly quickly. We’re going to be really excited to see him strap it up and get out there and actually be able to compete for the football while it’s in the air. That’s going to be the next phase, but his technique has been improving day after day, and he has real strength. He has strength in his hands, you can tell he’s a powerful guy, and obviously the speed is there.”
Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 20, WR Jermaine Kearse; No. 19, K Blair Walsh; No. 18, S Bradley McDougald; No. 17, RB Thomas Rawls; No. 16, DT Jarran Reed; No. 15, DE Frank Clark; No. 14, WR/KR Tyler Lockett; No. 13, WR Amara Darboh; No. 12, CB C.J. Prosise; No. 11, RT Germain Ifedi; No. 10, S Kam Chancellor; No. 9, TE Jimmy Graham; No. 8, DL Michael Bennett; No. 7, LT George Fant; No. 6, DL Malik McDowell.