JACKSONVILLE – Shaquill Griffin likes what he sees.
Griffin, quickly becoming a leader of the Jaguars' defense, figured there would be a lot to like about the team and the secondary when he signed as an unrestricted free agent in March.
The last three months more than confirmed the feeling.
"I'm excited about this group," he said.
Griffin, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, shared his thoughts on his new defensive-backfield mates during the Jaguars' 2021 Minicamp presented by Baptist Health – which ended recently at the Dream Finders Homes Practices Complex.
One reason for Griffin's optimism: a group of teammates that's a mix of youth and experience, with veterans CJ Henderson, Griffin, Tre Herndon and Sidney Jones IV and rookie Tyson Campbell expected to form the core of the cornerback position. Veterans such as Rayshawn Jenkins, Daniel Thomas, Cody Ford and Jarrod Wilson and rookie Andre Cisco could form the core at safety.
"I'm glad I'm a part of this group," Griffin said. "Man, there are some special things that are going to come. I wish I could put it into words, but man, some special things will come out of this group, this DB group.
"I'll be ready to run through a brick wall for all these guys. So, that's the bond we're trying to build. That's someone I can trust and play with for sure, those guys."
Another thing Griffin likes is the Jaguars' defensive style moving forward, particularly how he says the secondary will play under new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. Cullen spent the last five seasons as the defensive line coach with the Baltimore Ravens, a defense with a reputation for creative blitzing from multiple levels of the defense – and the Ravens' defensive approach also included complex blitz packages from the secondary.
"I feel like it's going to help me for sure, having the opportunity to change things up," Griffin said. "So, you're talking about a corner that's able to move around, travel a little bit more, add some blitzes, whatever the case may be. When the coaches told us they want to find what works best for everybody and utilize that on the field so we all can accomplish the same goal, that's winning.
"Everybody's using their strength and the coaches are seeing that and utilizing that. So, it's going to be something special to really see and I'm excited for it. I can only imagine when they and open the playbook up for everybody to start learning and it's going to be some interesting things and I can't wait to see it."
Passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer made headlines during 2021 Minicamp when he said the team had yet to decide on a starting quarterback. And while many observers assume rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence – the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft – will start, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell praised veteran Gardner Minshew II during minicamp. "It's fun to be able to see Gardner and get to meet him in person," Bevell said. "He's quite the personality. I really like the personality, I think he's a leader, he's got a great way about him, he's got a lot of charisma and he does a great job managing things on the field." Minshew, a sixth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2019 NFL Draft, won seven of 20 starts in 2019 and 2020 – and Bevell praised his ability to learn a new offense quickly this offseason. "He has been a quick study that way," Bevell said. "I've been impressed with how fast he has picked it up, how well he communicates with his players, how he can get us in and out of some of the things that we're asking him to do. And he's probably already second or third level at some of the things. Obviously, he's played NFL football games before. So, where he's at is really at a good spot, I really like what he's doing for us and I'm glad that he's here."
Cullen on Head Coach Urban Meyer: "He's the piston that drives the engine, so we're going to be a fast team. We're going to be relentless with our effort. My whole makeup from when I played – and coaches that I've played for – kind of falls in line with that, so I think it's been great. Coach has done a phenomenal job pushing the players and getting the best out of them and each coach at their respective unit has done the same thing."