RENTON – Ever since Richard Sherman graduated from rookie to veteran, he’s embraced the role of mentor to younger Seahawks cornerbacks.
He sees an apt pupil in the latest one he’s taken under his wing: Shaquill Griffin.
“He’s sharp. He’s mentally sharp,” Sherman said Monday after Griffin, a rookie third-round pick, played with the starters during the Seahawks’ mock game. “That’s really, really unique for a rookie to be that mentally sharp and mentally on it. He’s incredibly coachable. He does a great job of just being coachable and when they correct a mistake then he makes sure he makes the corrections. He’s great in the run game, he’s not scared to throw it up in there and that’s what he showed today. That’s what they’re looking for.”
When Sherman talks about Griffin’s coachability, he means not only the willingness to be taught but the aptitude to use what’s being taught.
“It’s harder to put it into action,” Sherman said, “and he puts it into action just about every time.”
And Sherman, who’s entering his seventh NFL season, has been doing some of the coaching. Griffin said Sherman has helped him with both the mental and physical sides of the game, whether it’s showing him how to watch film, helping him understand what to expect in certain downs and distances and working with him on the intricacies of Seattle’s step-kick technique, which can come with a steep learning curve for rookie cornerbacks and even incoming veterans.
“I told him that I would take him to deeper water if he continues to advance as he is,” Sherman said. “But right now we’re keeping him really shallow because we don’t want to overwhelm him too quick and (leave him) thinking about too much. As we get into the season, if he’s out there, he’s got to deal with it.”
What Richard Sherman sees in rookie Shaquill Griffin, the latest young CB he’s taken under his wing: pic.twitter.com/DMow09g8Sp
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) August 8, 2017
By “out there,” Sherman means filling a significant role in Seattle’s defense, which Griffin has a chance to do.
With DeShawn Shead still recovering from knee surgery, the right cornerback job he held for the last season and a half is up for grabs. Jeremy Lane started to grab a hold of it with a strong start to training camp and would seem to be the logical choice given his experience over Griffin and Neiko Thorpe. But even in that scenario, Seattle would still need a third cornerback to take over on the outside when Seattle’s defense is in nickel and Lane moves inside. And considering the Seahawks’ were in nickel on about two-thirds of their defensive snaps last season, that third cornerback is essentially another starter.
Lane hasn’t practiced the last few days because of what Carroll described as a minor injury. That’s meant an extended look with the first unit for Griffin.
“He’s gotten patient,” Sherman said, “he’s trusting himself more, he’s not biting on the receivers’ first moves like he was in OTAs. He had a susceptibility to the inside release that he doesn’t have as much as often anymore. He’s not relying on his athleticism as much as he was at first. He’s playing smarter. All those things are coming into fruition but those are just … learning things, being a young guy.”
Expect to see plenty of Griffin in the preseason as the Seahawks try to find out how ready the rookie is.
“I want everyone to know they can count on me,” Griffin said. “I’m a rookie, but I’m not here to act like a rookie. I’m going to continue to mature and let everyone know they can count on me. If I do get a chance to run with them in a game, that’s perfect. I’m here and I’m ready for it whenever they need me. I’m going to continue to express that. I’m here to learn and continue to work my craft so if that situation comes up, I’m ready to play.”