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Shaquill Griffin: ‘It’s a blessing’ to learn from Richard Sherman

Seahawks rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin (AP)

After selecting Central Florida standout cornerback Shaquill Griffin in the 2017 NFL Draft, Seahawks general manager John Schneider promised fans one thing:

“You guys are going to love him.”

Less than four months later, Griffin is indeed impressing at Seahawks training camp and has quickly become a fan-favorite. The 22-year-old cornerback spoke with KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross Wednesday about his new life in the NFL.

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“It’s a blessing,” Griffin told Ross of becoming a mentee to veteran corner Richard Sherman. “I couldn’t ask for anything more… I feel like I was put in a great opportunity to be on this team and be coached by one of the greatest.”

Sherman himself has high praise for Griffin.

“That’s really, really unique for a rookie to be that mentally sharp and mentally on it,” Sherman told reporters. “He’s incredibly coachable.”

Part of that might be attributed to a strong work ethic – one Griffin learned from his family. He says his dad told him when he was younger that if he wants to be the best, then he’d have to “work harder than the rest.”

“That’s a quote he told me since I was about four years old,” Griffin said. “And as I got older I kind of understood what he started to say.”

Griffin is the highest-drafted cornerback under Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. It’s no surprise to see why they jumped: Griffin allowed just 33 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed and nabbed four interceptions in his senior season alone. His exceptional athleticism wasn’t even the most impressive thing about the young defensive back – he turned down an opportunity to play at Miami because he promised his twin brother, Shaquem, that they would only play at a school if both of them could go together. The brothers also started a youth track program in their hometown at 15 years old.

Griffin’s drive and competitive edge remind fans of the types of players Carroll and Schneider gravitate toward. Perhaps it’s why so many started comparing him to Sherman. But there’s one more characteristic the two share.

“Oh man, my dreads are like my power. It’s a part of me,” Griffin said with a smile. “And it’s so funny, the first reason I started growing my hair, the reason why I wanted to grow it is because I just wanted to see my hair swing out the side of my helmet. That’s the reason, that‘s the real story.

“And you know,” Griffin said. “You got Richard Sherman with the long dreads, so now I’m going to make my own little image to it, put a little something on the bottom of it so they know who I am.”

Griffin has a chance to cement his spot on the roster through training camp. With DeShawn Shead starting the season on the “Physically Unable to Perform” list, and Jeremy Lane nursing a soft tissue injury, Griffin and teammate Neiko Thorpe will likely see plenty of playing time at the right corner spot, opposite Sherman. Griffin told Dave his ultimate goal isn’t necessarily to get the starting gig; rather, it’s to be the best possible teammate.

“To continue to learn, and mature, and let everyone know I’m going to be ready to play when they need me,” Griffin said. “And of course one day I’m going to be a Pro Bowler, but as of right now I’m being patient, I’m taking my time and I’m learning.”

Adjusting to the NFL surely brings out some fears. When asked about his worst nightmare, Griffin said it would be not being able to contribute to the team.

What about being called “mediocre” by Richard Sherman?

“Yeah, definitely,” Griffin said, with a hearty laugh. “Definitely!”

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