The Dallas Cowboys Need to Draft Shaquem Griffin
If you don't know who Shaquem Griffin is, he's a former American Athletic Conference Player of the Year who had 92 tackles and 11.5 sacks as a junior in 2016 during his first full year as a starting linebacker. As a senior, Griffin had 75 tackles and seven sacks. In his career, Griffin created seven turnovers and had 33.5 tackles for loss.
His NFL.com draft profile lists his 40 at the combine as 4.38 at 6'1" and 225 pounds. He also bench pressed 225 lbs. 20 times. Griffin's draft grade from is projected to be a 4th or 5th round pick because of his team's level in college; he didn't go to a Power-5 school. And the fact that he only has one hand.
The same NFL.com profile said this:
Griffin's physical limitation should be discussed as it pertains to areas like tackle disengagement and consistency of finishing, but his instincts, play speed and technique have all been major factors in helping him thrive at his position. His upfield burst as an edge blitzer and his range as a tackler are two strengths that NFL teams could capitalize on. Griffin is a hybrid player and teams will need to place him in a role similar to how he played at UCF. Despite some limitations, he has the talent to become a decent NFL backup.
The Dallas Cowboys need an immediate impact depth piece at outside linebacker with an outstanding motor and an ability to rush the passer. That perfectly describes Shaquem Griffin.
His negatives are obvious, but they don't outweigh the positives in his game and the intangibles he's showed to overcome those same negatives.
Highlight video after highlight video shows Griffin making NFL-caliber plays all over the field. In UCF's bowl game against Auburn, an elite SEC team, Griffin had nine tackles and 1.5 sacks.
The Cowboys have a desperate need at linebacker, but the top end talent doesn't fit the Cowboys scheme like Griffin does. Though Griffin played in a 3-4 defense in college, his story is what lines up perfectly with the current Dallas regime that consistently takes chances in the draft. Jaylon Smith had a serious knee injury. Rico Gathers played basketball at Baylor. Those two picks are still seen as positive even though they haven't reached their full potential.
Griffin would slot in as arguably the 3rd best linebacker on the team in 2018, and would push Damien Wilson for a starting role and would see ample time if Sean Lee can't stay on the field.
The Cowboys have taken chances on low character in the past. It's time for them to double down on a high-character guy like Shaquem Griffin, who is the embodiment of the Rod Marinelli never-give-up style of defense.
With Griffin's 4.38 speed, it's not ridiculous to see him move back to safety in the NFL, which is arguably a bigger need than linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. Don't be surprised if the Dallas Cowboys get Griffin in the 3rd round if they don't get a linebacker in round one.
Bottom line: Shaquem Griffin will be a great piece for some NFL team for the next 10 years.