What’d I Miss: Shaquem Griffin Steals Show at Combine

The 90th Academy Awards came and went Sunday night without much drama or surprise. Favorites won in all the major categories, women were empowered in the aftermath of #MeToo, and host Jimmy Kimmel continued the new tradition of taking a bevy of stars to surprise “regular people”

Despite “I, Tonya’s” acting win, sports films don’t often intersect Oscar. But the big story out of the NFL’s Scouting Combine has the seeds of feature film material.

The Griffin Show

Central Florida LB Shaquem Griffin was born without a left hand due to birth complications. He played football anyway. Played it quite well and was a late invite to the Combine after a successful Senior Bowl. Expectations in Indy were mixed for Griffin until he started drills. Sporting a prosthetic on his left hand, Griffin bench pressed 20 reps. Then he bolted 40 yards in 4.38 seconds, the fastest time recorded by a linebacker since 2006.

Pete Carroll was impressed.

So were J.J. Watt and Von Miller. NFL.com has a great feature on Griffin from January that illuminates his backstory. The site projected the dazzling prospect to go in the 4th-5th round but that was then. Now, the ceiling seems limitless.

Saquon Barkley turns heads

Barkley, the unequivocal top RB in this draft, also wowed in Combine drills. The all-around athlete displayed top RB numbers in Indianapolis –  4.40 40, 29 reps on bench press, and a 41-inch vertical leap. Barkley’s diverse skill set already makes him considered a high first round pick. But his Indy performance puts him in play for Cleveland at no. 1, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.  The Browns need a transformational player and Barkley may be that guy over one of the QBs, most of which will still be available when the Browns pick again at no.4. We just hope no one getting hurt in the drafting of Barkley.

More from Indy

  • Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown had a “historically bad” combine.
  • In the tale of two Joshs that happen to be QBs, Wyoming’s Josh Allen showcased his explosive arm, throwing one deep ball 70 yards. Meanwhile UCLA’s Josh Rosen, who many considered the cream of the crop, struggled with accuracy.
  • Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has been under the microscope as rumors floated that some teams wanted him to work out as a WR. Jackson, to his credit, laughed off that notion while meeting with the media and reportedly went on to wildly impress teams in one-on-one meetings. Jackson did forgo the 40-yard dash and other drills, which is not exactly helpful for physical evaluation.

Aldon Smith finds trouble again

Oft-troubled LB Aldon Smith was reportedly involved in a domestic violence situation late Saturday night, where he left an apartment building in San Francisco while police were on their way to question him.  A member of the Raiders currently serving a suspension.  Smith had four arrests and three DUIs while with the 49ers from 2011 to 2015, adding a domestic violence allegation in February 2017. Smith was also the passenger in a car that collided with a SFPD car a month later.

The latest DV accusation will be further investigated. No matter the outcome, this kid cannot escape trouble and it’s absolutely stunning that he is on an NFL roster.

Kirk Cousins Bowl

The league year starts next week and no one can say for certain which salary cap friendly and QB deficient team will be Cousins’s new home.  Minnesota appears to be the frontrunner. Cousins to Denver rumors heated up but a new report suggests Elway and company are eyeing Case Keenum. Maybe the Jets can ultimately sell Cousins on … um, I don’t know what.