New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Guard Robert T. Griffin

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets 6th round draft pick guard Robert T. Griffin

Chris Gross will be in the film room for Turn On The Jets breaking down all eight of the New York Jets draft selections. Today we look at 6th round pick, guard Robert T. Griffin. (At the bottom of the article, I offer a brief commentary on Griffin from the film I have watched). – JC

With their last of three selections in round six of the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Guard Robert T. Griffin out of Baylor University. The Jets were expected to select an offensive lineman at some point in the draft due to the lack of depth up front. However, it came as a surprise to many that New York opted to wait until the end of the sixth round to finally pull the trigger on one of the many big men available this year. Griffin certainly has impressive size at over 6’6” 340 lbs, but there are several aspects of his game that currently prevent him from utilizing his massive frame.

The biggest flaw in Griffin’s game that was exposed in the wide-open offense that was run at Baylor is his lack of athleticism. Although he shows flashes of quickness and agility at times, Griffin more often than not struggles immensely in space. He was frequently asked to pull last season, but was very ineffective in this area. There were times when he blocked no one, times when he showed poor balance and coordination by falling on his face, and times when he flat out ran into one of his teammates. Griffin also showed very poor blocking ability at the second level. When asked to move beyond the line of scrimmage to block linebackers, something very common for any guard to do, Griffin never seemed to be able to get his feet underneath him, and would either be beaten with agility or by strength. His poor balance and lack of center of gravity would make him an easy target for linebackers to shed at their disposal.

Griffin also does not posses the footwork that you would look for in an NFL offensive lineman. He is not very explosive out of his stance, and has a hard time sliding in pass coverage. He also has a tendency to lean his shoulders forward leaving him extremely vulnerable to pass rush moves of both speed and strength. On some plays, Griffin looks as if he is lost, completely unaware of his assignment, causing him to turn his shoulders and allow defenders to come off his backside and make a play. Overall, his footwork is very inconsistent. In short spans, Griffin’s feet can look quick and agile, but the majority of the time his footwork is slow and ineffective in getting his massive frame to be in any position of use.

Although he has several inconsistencies and imperfections, Griffin does do some things well. He has great tenacity, and seems most comfortable in straight on man blocking. The vast majority of the time when defenders were lined up directly over him, Griffin would show the ability to get into them and use his strength and size to drive them off the ball. His footwork is best shown in his kick out blocks, as he proved to be able to get his head inside of defenders and drive them toward the sideline, opening running lanes up the middle.

However, he sometimes does not use his hands to his advantage. Griffin has a very poor habit of trying to block with his shoulders, which allows defenders to get into him and gain the leverage needed to move him around as they please. He also has a tendency to play far too high, allowing defenders to gain even more leverage on him. In order to develop successfully, he needs to work on staying low and improving his hand placement in the worst of ways.

There is undoubtedly some cause for concern in the play of the former Baylor guard. However, it makes some sense that he was appealing to the Jets. First of all, he was, as previously stated, the last of three sixth round selections, so there was very little risk in taking him. Also, his size is certainly attractive. If he can ever learn to apply the proper skill to his frame, he will have tremendous success in the NFL, but that is a very big “if.”

Griffin does have decent man blocking skills, so it isn’t a complete mystery as to why Tony Sparano and the offensive staff would be open to working with this young man. The bottom line is that he will certainly need time to develop. What will work in his favor for this season is the potential lack of depth along the offensive line. Depending on how the remainder of free agency plays out, Griffin could make the active roster simply for the need of an extra body. However, he would be much better suited on the practice squad for a season or two in order to grow and develop as an NFL lineman. Sparano is surely the right man to aid in his development, and at the point in the draft in which he was selected, Griffin’s potential payoff outweighs any risk associated with him. Because of his size, he does have tremendous upside. However, don’t expect anything too soon, as he is an extremely raw product.

New York waiting until the sixth round of the draft to select a lineman, especially one who is going to be such a work in progress, only solidifies the notion that they are ready to move into camp with Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse competing for the starting job at Right Tackle. Mike Tannenbaum and the coaching staff can say that Austin Howard will be in the mix as well, but everyone associated with this team knows that is simply untrue. Expect the Jets to look into adding a veteran that is still left on the free agent market at some point before the season, perhaps Vernon Carey, whose name has come up countless times due to his familiarity with Sparano. As for Griffin, he is a long way away from becoming a capable offensive lineman in this league, if ever.

Editor’s Notes – From the Baylor film I watched, Griffin doesn’t look like a player who merited a draft pick. The Jets clearly picked him because of his size and their faith in Tony Sparano. Griffin did show good drive blocking skills when he could get on his man, which does translate well to this offense. However he is very, very raw and simply gets lost out there way too much. His field awareness and ability to move around or get to the second level have a long way to go. He looks like the type of player to store on the practice squad for a couple of years.

New York Jets Rookie Camp – The Path To Playing Time

How can the 2012 New York Jets draft picks find themselves playing time this season?

The New York Jets eight draft picks and a large collection of undrafted free agents and tryout players will gather for a mini-camp this weekend. Focusing down on the eight draft picks, what will it take for each of them to receive playing time this season? Who will be their primary competition? Let’s take a closer look –

Quinton Coples – Regardless of whether Coples starts at defensive end or not, he is going to see substantial reps on the defensive line rotation particularly on third downs. In a way Marcus Dixon, Kenrick Ellis and Mike DeVito are competing for playing time with him but in reality Coples has a much different skill set than all three and will likely be used in many unique ways by Rex Ryan. Ideally, at a minimum Coples is a pass rushing specialist this year and then sees the rest of his game develop in the coming years.

Stephen Hill – Unless he bombs out in the pre-season, Hill will be the opening day starter at split end. He has too much speed and size to keep on the bench. Chaz Schilens and Patrick Turner will be competing to be his backup but shouldn’t see anywhere near the amount of playing time Hill does this season.

DeMario Davis – Outside of Aaron Maybin, Davis will be the fastest of the Jets linebackers. While I do not think we will see him in a starting role this season unless there is an injury, he should fill in for Bart Scott at inside linebacker in certain packages and could also line up at outside linebacker for Bryan Thomas to utilize his ability to cover the tight end. He will be competing with players like Josh Mauga, Nick Bellore and Garret McIntyre but considering his skill set and where the Jets drafted him, I’d look for Davis to both make the roster and be a regular contributor on defense.

Josh Bush – Bush’s skill set make him the most natural free safety on the Jets roster. Unless he is beat out by Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith, he should immediately contribute in a handful of defensive packages and be the top backup to Eric Smith who is technically the team’s free safety even though he is miscast in that role.

Terrance Ganaway – He will be competing with Bilal Powell to be active on a weekly basis and then competing with Joe McKnight and Shonn Greene for playing time. His comfort of playing in an option offense makes him an immediate candidate to be a factor on offense when Tim Tebow is under center. Don’t be surprised if Ganaway ends up contributing a few hundred yards of offense this season.

Robert T. Griffin – As our breakdown later in the day will show, Griffin has a long, long way to go before becoming a contributor on a NFL team. This season he will compete with Caleb Schlauderaff and Austin Howard for a spot on the active roster. However, it is much more likely he will end up on the practice squad.

Antonio AllenMake sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of Allen, who should end up being LaRon Landry’s backup this season, a contributor as a blitzer and play special teams. I’d be surprised to see a journeyman like Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith beat him out.

Jordan WhiteMake sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of White. He will compete with Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot and projects to backing up Jeremy Kerley in the slot if he can make the roster.