After spending his rookie season as the Seahawks' starting right cornerback, Shaquill Griffin has seen a couple of things change this offseason. One change is a new position, with Griffin moving to left corner to fill the spot that was held by Richard Sherman for seven seasons; the other change is a return to the norm for Griffin, whose twin brother Shaquem is once again both his roommate and teammate.
Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin grew up incredibly close, as is so often the case with twins. Unlike most twins, however, they both became Division I athletes, playing football together at UCF. Shaquill left for the NFL last year, while Shaquem, having redshirted earlier in his career, finished out his college career about as far away from his brother as two people could be within the continental United States.
With the Seahawks drafting Shaquem Griffin in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, the twins are back together again, wearing the same uniform and sharing an apartment, which Shaquill jokes suddenly feels a bit more crowded.
"He's definitely taking up a lot of space," Shaquill Griffin said with a laugh. "No, I'm glad to have him back. He moved in right away as soon as he got here and I'm glad to have my roommate back."
Being reunited with his brother after a year apart is not so much a change for Shaquill Griffin as much as it is a return to what feels normal for the twins.
"No, no change, I feel like we're just back to normal," he said. "You know, the first year being alone here, away from the east coast now I'm on the west coast, away from the family, you know, it was different for me but I adapted to it. Now I don't have to worry about being by myself anymore in the house. It's just good to have him back and it feels right."
Whether it's a year of NFL experience or the comfort of having his brother back in his life on a daily basis, Shaquill Griffin is thriving as he prepares for his second season in the NFL. Shaquill Griffin played very well as a rookie, but with Sherman gone, even more will be on his shoulders with a move to the left side, generally the spot occupied by a team's top cornerback. And so far, he has impressed everyone with what he has shown in offseason workouts.
"He has been really comfortably involved with everything," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He just looks like he's a veteran. He grew a ton out of last season. Remember, we didn't have a lot of problems with him last year. There was not an inconsistency to him, there was not the rookie wall, there was none of that kind of stuff. He just kept cruising all the way through and had a really consistent first season, and he has just kind of picked up where he left off. It's kind of like—on the other side of the ball—one of the things Russell (Wilson) has always impressed us with is how consistently he approaches everything. There's never much fluctuation in his intensity and his focus; I see that in Shaq. He has had a great body of work that he put together in this offseason getting ready, so it's a good sign. It means that last season didn't affect him in any negative ways, didn't distract him in any ways, and that's important to see."
Shaquill Griffin played both cornerback spots at UCF and downplayed the difficulty of switching to the other side of the field.
"It's not an issue," he said. "Just moving over, it's a little different step for me, but nothing that I can't focus on. But I'm loving the left side and I'm honored to be on that side now. I'm here to help my team any way I can."
And if a move to the left side of the defense means more targets coming his way, Shaquill Griffin is all for facing that challenge.
"I'm hoping so," he said. "I love to compete. The more you target me, the more fun it is for me. I love it. I guess we'll see when the first game comes around."
With Sherman now playing for the 49ers and with Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas not at voluntary offseason workouts, Shaquill Griffin has quickly gone from rookie to one of the most experienced players in Seattle's secondary. That will change a bit when Thomas is back and if Chancellor, who has more tests coming up on his injured neck, is able to play this year, but for now Shaquill Griffin is embracing a leadership role in the secondary.
"It's different," he said. "It's just tells me I've got to play more of a leadership role, and I'm looking forward to doing so… We're not going to miss a beat, we're not going to miss a step."
The Seahawks wrapped up Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Thursday, June 7, and Phase 3 of the team's offseason workout program will conclude next week with a three-day mandatory minicamp at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.