Combine Notebook: Griffin is Combine’s Breakout Star, Barry Leads LB Drills

Posted Mar 4, 2018

The third day of on-field workouts continued at the NFL Combine on Sunday. Interior lineman were the first to take the spotlight, followed by edge rushers and linebackers.

The on-field portion of the 2018 NFL Combine kicked off on Friday and continued on Saturday as the quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers took the turf. But Sunday was all about the defense. Interior lineman were the first to take the spotlight, followed by edge rushers and linebackers.

Here are the top takeaways from Day 5:

Who is the Breakout Star of the Combine?

So far? It’s Shaquem Griffin.

The former UCF linebacker has been turning heads for quite some time now. After his left hand was amputated at age four, Griffin defied the odds — becoming one of college football’s top outside linebackers and the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

On Saturday, he surprised many NFL scouts by posting 20 bench press reps of 225 pounds. And his incredible Combine journey became that much greater on Sunday, as he recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time by a linebacker since 2003.

Griffin’s blazing time of 4.38 was faster than that of notable players like Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr., and Ezekiel Elliott. Plus, in true twin fashion, he matched the 40-yard dash time of his brother, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who was selected by the Seahawks in the third-round of last year’s draft.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll appeared equally impressed with Shaquem, as evident by his reaction to the linebacker’s top speed:

If Griffin is able to complete his epic journey to the league, he will become the first one-handed NFL player in the modern era.

What are the Rams Watching for on the Field?

Earlier today, gave you an inside look at what general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay look for in Combine interviews. But what exactly are they watching for during the on-field portions of the day?

According to Snead, the answer often varies on a player by player and position by position basis. But because Sunday is headlined by the defensive linemen, Snead gave some insight as to how the Rams will break down and evaluate this position group.

“You’ve got to go into it and [say], what if there’s this defensive lineman and his game is being stout against the run, displacing the line of scrimmage with power and things like that? Well, out there in underwear, he might not look as good as the guy who likes to hit gaps and get an edge,” Snead said.

“But you might not be looking for the guy who’s that flavor,” Snead continued. “So you go into it, [saying] OK, this guy’s a big, strong [guy] — that’s his go-to pitch. [But] there’s nothing out there that you, really, can see that in. And there’s other ones where — we’re a 3-4 team and you have this guy that played DL in college but we may move him to OLB and they’ve got the conversion drill. So each player’s case-by-case and you go out there and know what you’re looking for and try to find out.” 

Barry Gets in on the Action:

Rams’ linebackers coach Joe Barry got in on the action on Sunday, running the linebacker drills for each of the Combine’s 31 prospects. Here he is with potential the first-round pick out of Virginia Tech Tremaine Edmunds:

“The linebacker position, there’s six drills that we do. And the cool thing that the NFL does, is it allows a handful of coaches from a handful of teams to actually go down on the field and run the drills,” Barry said following the workouts. “And the thing that’s great for me is you actually get to stand right next to a guy. So you’re not watching it on film, like we will when we go back to L.A. We’re not watching it even from the stands or the suite. We’re actually down on the field standing right next to a guy, seeing how he competes. We get a true, hands-on feel. So it’s a nice advantage where we’re allowed to be down on the field, watching these guys compete.”