(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2018 NFL Draft isn't until April 26, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is UCF's Shaquem Griffin.)
- Name: Shaquem Griffin
- Position: LB
- Honors:first-team all-conference, 2017 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Defensive MVP
- Key Stat:Despite playing linebacker, Griffin finished with 13 tackles for loss and 7 sacks last season.
Where He's Projected:
There might not be a more fascinating prospect in this year's draft than Shaquem Griffin. He was an all-conference linebacker and a bonafide playmaker for an undefeated UCF team. But it's also an unavoidable fact that he was born without a left hand. It's a handicap that did not hinder him from becoming one of college football's best players, but it's also going to drastically affect his draft stock when it comes time for NFL teams to consider where he's drafted. There's no doubt he can make a place for himself in the league, but it's doubtful he'll be selected before the third day of the NFL draft.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
It seems unlikely that Griffin is going to be a full-time starter at the professional level, but he has quite a few skills that could help the Cowboys. Firstly, he's quite adept at making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Griffin spent much of the 2017 season lined up right off the line of scrimmage, chasing down quarterbacks and ball carriers from the back side. He could certainly find a role for himself doing something similar in sub packages on defense. On top of that, his speed and his hustle making him a great candidate for special teams. Again, this isn't a guy you're going to spend a first-round pick. But he could be a valuable addition if he's available in the later rounds.
- This is my pet cat in terms of players for this draft.
- He has physical limitations with a missing left hand since birth.
- He plays his rear off each and every snap, but there are times where you see it affect his play.
- He is an absolute blur running to the ball, as his will to get there is unmatched.
- He's not the biggest guy but plays with the biggest heart.
- I see him as a sub package and special teams demon.
- He is not likely a long-term starter, but there is a role for him.
- If not for his handicap, he would likely be an early Day 2 guy.
- He could be a special player.
- I will be interested to see where teams view him at the Combine, as I was impressed with him and his play at the Senior Bowl.