The son of rapper Warren G and nephew of Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, Olaijah Griffin could easily have been headed for the stage rather than the 2021 NFL Draft. Instead, he is following the path of his godfather Willie McGinest into the NFL. Where does the USC cornerback sit in this deep defensive back class?
Olaijah Griffin NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: USC
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 5’11 3/8″
- Weight: 176 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Olaijah Griffin Scouting Report
Positives: Two-year starter who also played special teams extensively as a freshman. Smallish but feisty cornerback with outstanding ball skills. Fluid pedaling in reverse, smooth flipping his hips, and effectively positions himself against receivers to defend the throw. Tracks the pass in the air, displays good awareness, and has a burst of closing speed. Stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks, battles, and works hard to defend passes. Fires up the field and gives effort defending the run. Competes and does not back down to bigger opponents.
Negatives: Lack of size is an issue. Doesn’t slow down receivers with jams and struggles in battles. Lacks top-end play speed and struggles to recover.
Analysis: Griffin was a terrific cornerback at USC the past two seasons, and though he lacks great size, he possesses the ball skills and intensity to line up in dime or even nickel packages at the next level.
Olaijah Griffin Player Profile
Despite his musical background, there is no doubt that Olaijah Griffin was destined for the NFL Draft from a young age. The Long Beach native had an outstanding high school career at Mission Viejo High School. Impressing as an All-State sophomore in 2015, he could have easily had a career as a pass catcher. Between his junior and senior seasons, he snagged 1,634 receiving yards while adding 23 touchdowns. He also added value as a kick returner early in his playing career.
Despite his pass-catching prowess — or maybe because of it — he excelled on the defensive side of the ball. An All-American First Team honoree as a junior, he had 34 tackles, 4 for loss, and 2 interceptions. Following his junior season, the offers began to flood in. Originally a four-star recruit who was upgraded to a five-star, he was ranked as the third-best cornerback in the nation.
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A wild recruiting process ensued that saw him commit to UCLA prior to his senior season. It was a year where he added LA Times All-Area Back of the Year and All-South Coast League MVP honors to another All-American First Team appearance.
A hotter commodity than ever before, he decommitted from UCLA after taking a visit to Tennessee. He announced the Vols as the front runner, citing an opportunity to play immediately. Ultimately, however, he would stay at home to play for the USC Trojans.
Olaijah Giffin’s college football career at USC
On the announcement of his commitment, Olaijah Griffin drew immediate comparisons to USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson who had been a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2017. Although he played in eight games — splitting time between cornerback and special teams — a shoulder injury deprived him of the opportunity to be a genuine playmaking freshman threat. Following the 2018 season, he had surgery to resolve his shoulder issues.
Despite a back injury in 2019, USC fans got a better impression of his playmaking talents. He made 10 starts as a junior, earning an All-Pac-12 honorable mention for his performances. He led USC in pass breakups in a year where he had 37 tackles, 9 pass breakups, and half a tackle for loss. Of the pass breakups, four of them came in a standout performance against Stanford.
Griffin arguably saved his best football for his final season as a USC cornerback. He had 22 tackles — including one for loss — in just six games. He opened the season with three consecutive games with a pass breakup, before adding his first career interception against Washington State. Additionally, he set career-high single-game tackle figures against UCLA.
In an announcement timed to coincide with his grandmother’s birthday, USC cornerback Olaijah Griffin declared for the 2021 NFL Draft on January 1.
Olaijah Griffin’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
USC cornerback Olaijah Griffin presents a difficult 2021 NFL Draft evaluation. Missing game time in two out of your three seasons due to injury obviously is far from ideal.
Thankfully for him, he put his best film on tape in his final season. That demonstrates that he is still developing his game rather than having hit his ceiling early. Griffin played outside cornerback during his time at USC and that projects to be his use in the NFL. He has experience playing in both man and zone coverage schemes, making him scheme versatile.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.