UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin has his landing spot in the NFL, after being drafted by the Seahawks with the No. 141 pick.
Griffin’s one of the best stories in the draft. He lost his left hand due to a rare prenatal condition, but it hasn’t stopped him from being one of the best prospects in the NFL Draft. He was one of the high-profile players invited to the green room in Arlington from the first night of the draft onward, and while he had to wait, he’s still one of the draft’s biggest stars.
Griffin was American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in his first year as a starter (2016), and never looked back. In 2017, he added a second All-American Athletic Conference nod and Peach Bowl MVP honor to his resume, while leading UCF to a undefeated season and first claimed national championship in school history.
Here’s why fans should be excited to have Griffin on their team, beyond the obvious — he’s much more than just a player who overcame a rare challenge.
1. He’s incredibly fast. No, seriously, he ran the fastest 40-yard dash by a linebacker EVER
Griffin’s NFL Combine was electric, and part of it was because of his 40-yard dash, which he absolutely crushed.
Griffin clocked in with a 4.38, the same time that his brother Shaquill, a current Seahawks corner, did in 2017 ... and his brother is DB-sized, not linebacker-sized.
WOW. WOW. WOW.— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 4, 2018
4.38u for @ShaquemGriffin!
The fastest 40 time for an LB since 2003.
: #NFLCombine LIVE on NFL Network pic.twitter.com/MkDdOHJ2XQ
That time was faster than All-Pros like Ezekiel Elliott, Julio Jones, and Richard Sherman.
2. He makes big plays
Griffin has proved that having one hand is not a problem for him. He had two career interceptions and 11 pass breakups, along with 18.5 career sacks and tons of tackles.
Here he is battling for a fumble he forced, then coming away from the pile with it:
Shaquem can do it all.
3. He’s a national champion
College football’s playoff determines a true national champion, but for years, titles have been claimed by schools throughout the sport. So after they went undefeated in 2017, the UCF Knights claimed a national championship, despite Alabama winning the College Football Playoff.
Griffin is a winner, and the school’s got the national title claim to show it.
4. He’s strong!
The other eye-popping part of his NFL Combine performance was his bench press. He put up 20 reps of 225 pounds using a prosthetic on his left arm, with the whole linebacker room cheering him along:
Using a prosthetic on his left arm, @Shaquemgriffin just put up 20 reps on the bench press! #NFLCombine @UCF_Football— NFL (@NFL) March 3, 2018
: @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/fHS0b4Eb0s
Speaking to NFL Network’s Kim Jones after the performance, he said, “My adrenaline was going through the roof. I ain’t feel like I needed to stop. As soon as I heard 16, I was like ‘Oh yeah, I’m going for 20.’” Griffin added, “A lot of people didn’t think I was going to be able to do the bench press.”
5. He’s also got a pretty good mentor in Deion Sanders.
After he torched the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium during the combine on his 40-yard dash, Deion Sanders had to give him a shoutout on NFL Network.
Bench reps: 20— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 5, 2018
40-yard dash: 4.38
Meeting your idol: PRICELESS@ShaquemGriffin gets the surprise call from @DeionSanders.
: #NFLCombine LIVE on NFL Network pic.twitter.com/2TUlhJfGRW
But it was more than. Sanders said after they got off the call that he would give him his number to use him as a resource.
“I just want to make sure you have all the tools and the resources to be successful, on and off the field. I’m proud of you man,” he said.
There are worse mentors to have than Primetime. And now, Griffin will try to cement his own legacy in the NFL.
The moment Griffin got drafted is an awesome thing to see, too:
If you don’t get chills/tears/misty-eyed watching the scene at Shaquem Griffin’s house when he was drafted, get your heart checked. pic.twitter.com/xD3x03prKa— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) April 28, 2018
#AgainstAllOdds pic.twitter.com/ziEVX7cJiT— shaquem griffin (@Shaquemgriffin) April 28, 2018