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.