ARLINGTON, Texas — As if Shaquem Griffin wasn’t already the greatest feel-good story of this year’s NFL Draft, it got even better Saturday afternoon. The University of Central Florida linebacker, who doesn’t have a left hand because of a congenital condition, found out Saturday he’ll be playing alongside twin brother Shaquill with the Seahawks.
Seattle drafted Shaquem in the fifth round on Saturday, giving the linebacker with the relentlessly positive attitude a chance to make it in the NFL on the same defense as his twin brother. Shaquill, a cornerback, was a third-round pick of Seattle in 2017.
“That was a phone call I was waiting my entire life,” Shaquem said of the call he got from Seahawks general manager John Schneider. “I literally broke down after that. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know how to talk. I mean, I was just lost for words.”
Griffin, who had his hand amputated at age 4 but was never prevented from playing sports, put on a spectacular performance at the scouting combine in early March, running a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash and posting 20 reps in the bench press. The Seahawks envision Griffin as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, and he’s also expected to play special teams.
Griffin has high expectations.
“I don’t want to be a guy who’s just a feel-good story,” he said. “I want to be a football player, and a good one at that.”
In four seasons at Central Florida, Griffin played in 39 games with 26 starts and had 175 tackles, 18 ½ sacks, two interceptions and 11 passes defensed. He was an All-AAC selection twice and was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
Shaquill urged the Seahawks to take his brother.
“I made sure I kept his name fresh in that building,” said Shaquill, who was at the draft. “So every day, I made sure to mention my brother about something, even just, ‘Hey, man, my brother got a good workout in, his backpedal is looking smooth every day.’ [The Seahawks] continued to let me know how much they loved my brother, how much they loved my family. I’m glad they made this happen.”
“This is not the end of my road . . . it’s only just the beginning,” Shaquem said. “And I’m going to keep proving people wrong because I have a lot of people to prove wrong — a lot of doubters.”
While the Griffin family was delighted at the news of Shaquem being selected, it was more a sense of relief for Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. Considered by many scouts to be a first-round talent, Hurst, fell all the way to the fifth round (140th overall) before being taken by the Raiders.
Hurst was diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine, and even though he was eventually cleared by doctors to work out with no limitations, several teams were scared off by the issue.
Among other players of note taken on the final day, LSU quarterback Danny Etling went to the Patriots on the first pick of the seventh and final round. But don’t look for Etling to take Tom Brady’s place any time soon; he’s viewed strictly as a backup. The Patriots, who had two first-round picks, didn’t go for any of the other highly-regarded prospects.
The Bengals took Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside with the 31st pick in the seventh round. The Broncos got some wide receiver depth with Penn State’s Daesean Hamilton in the fourth round.
The final pick of the draft was Trey Quinn, dubbed this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” after getting picked by the Redskins at No. 256 overall. “Mr. Irrelevant” was a tradition started in 1976 by former Colts and 49ers receiver Paul Salata, a 10th-round pick in the 1951 draft. Quinn will get a tirp to Disneyland as well as the “Lowsman Trophy” — a play off the Heisman Trophy.