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Shaquem Griffin Not Picked in Round 1 of 2018 NFL Draft; Possible Landing Spots

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2018

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin is seen at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin was one of the best storylines in college football in recent years as a dominant force on the defensive side of the ball even though he is missing his left hand.

Despite his impressive collegiate career, he was not drafted in Thursday's first round of the 2018 NFL draft.

That means a team will have the opportunity to add a productive linebacker to their defense in the later rounds. Griffin won the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year behind 92 total tackles, 11.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

He then followed up in 2017 with 74 total tackles, 7.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception to help lead the Knights to a perfect 13-0 record and Peach Bowl victory over the SEC's Auburn Tigers.

The first thing that jumps out about Griffin is his speed as an edge-rusher. He posted a blistering time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, per his NFL.com, and it is not difficult to envision him living in opposing backfields at the next level with such a burst.

"His instincts, play speed and technique have all been major factors in helping him thrive at his position," Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote. "His upfield burst as an edge blitzer and his range as a tackler are two strengths that NFL teams could capitalize on."

On April 16, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked Griffin as the 11th-best linebacker in the 2018 draft class and gave him a fourth-round grade.

The question now is which team will select Griffin as a potential value selection in the later rounds. The thought here is it will be a team in need of bolstering its sack totals in the immediate future, and the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all candidates.

That is still the case even though Buffalo selected linebacker Tremaine Edwards and Tampa Bay picked defensive lineman Vita Vea on Thursday because they could both use additional pass-rushing depth.

Those were the worst four teams in the league in total sacks in 2017, and adding someone like Griffin to the front seven rotation would not only help because of the sacks he created but also lead to additional blitzing lanes when opposing offensive linemen have to shift his direction.

Another possibility is the New England Patriots, and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com quoted a league executive who saw an ideal fit.

"They do a good job of finding what players can do and utilizing their strengths in certain packages," the executive said. "He'll play on special teams. He provides a little position flexibility (can play stacked or off the edge rushing the passer), and he plays with a high motor and relentless style that they respect. Where most teams will say why he can't, their scheme and the way they utilize their players will show why he can."

                    

Predicted landing spots for Griffin: Bills, Giants, Colts, Buccaneers or Patriots

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