Size Irrelevant for Speedy Griffin
June 26, 2003
By Andrew Mason
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The platitudes regarding success even with a lack of physical height have been used so often in the sports vernacular, they have passed beyond being mere clichés to being almost accepted as fact.
"Tall ain't all."
"Judge me not by my size, do you?"
Okay, so the last one was a quote from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. Nevertheless, on an annual basis, some newcomer to the NFL stage proves once again that a player need not tower over opposition with the height of Darth Vader to be a potent force. One can ask Rod Smith, Al Wilson, Ian Gold, Clinton Portis and Terrell Davis about that. None of them are taller than six feet, yet all have become standouts in the league, and all but one has been to the Pro Bowl -- with the lone exception, Portis, having a Rookie of the Year award on his résumé.
So perhaps there is no better place for Quentin Griffin to begin his NFL career than with the Denver Broncos -- who not only possesses the requisite frame to join the afore-mentioned achievers, but also arrives as a mid-round running back -- another harbinger of success for Broncos of the recent past.
Stout and compact in build at 5-foot-7 and 195 pounds, Griffin resembles a bumblebee as he flutters and darts his way through a small hole in the offensive line. Yet the fact is, he can make it through where others can't, which he proved repeatedly at the University of Oklahoma.
Therefore, it's no wonder he believes that his relative lack of height compared to most other running backs is a blessing, rather than a detriment. It's what he knows, and his running style is based upon the advantages his height spawns -- chiefly the ability to sneak through openings that other runners might not be able to duck their way through.
"I think it is (an advantage)," Griffin said. "That's something I can't change. It's helped me get this far."
How far he goes with this opportunity in Denver could depend on how rapidly he can adjust to the NFL. Based on his senior-season statistics of 1,884 rushing yards (a school single-season record) and eight straight 100-yard rushing games to close his OU career, it's clear he possesses the speed and running skills with which to succeed in the NFL. The adjustment, therefore, is about all the things that must be taken care of away from the field -- namely film study and absorbing the team's massive playbook.
"I can play here. I know I can," Griffin said. "I love this offense. I just have to learn the system. I'm thinking instead of reacting. Once I learn the playbook, I'll be all right."
Being "all right" could entail that Griffin might someday step onto the field with the kind of walloping impact that Davis, Portis, Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary have provided in recent years. But the modest Griffin doesn't want to obsess about those possibilities. He just wanted to continue his adjustment to the Broncos and the NFL.
"I don't know. Maybe. We'll see what happens," he said when asked about the possibility of putting up huge numbers as a rookie. "But it's an honor to be drafted by the Broncos."