Shaquem Griffin, One-Handed LB, Overcomes It All to Dominate a NFL Combine

Doug Farrar

INDIANAPOLIS — When Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin came to a scouting combine, he knew he’d face doubt from NFL teams. After all, Griffin’s mix entice had come late—not until Jan. 30—despite an superb Senior Bowl week, his standing as a 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of a Year and an eye-opening 12-tackle, 1.5-sack diversion opposite Auburn in a Peach Bowl, that was punctuated by a late interception caused by nonetheless another Griffin vigour of quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Griffin knew he’d have doubters for one reason: He did all he did in college though a left hand. Griffin’s palm was amputated during age 4 given a singular birth condition called amniotic rope syndrome had prevented his fingers from entirely building and caused good earthy pain. That didn’t stop Griffin, who attended UCF with twin hermit Shaquill, who was comparison by a Seahawks in a third spin of a 2017 breeze and is now one of a up-and-coming cornerbacks in a league.

None of that mattered for Shaquem’s veteran prospects, though. He’d have to come here and infer he could behind adult all on his fasten with a spin of athleticism co-ordinate with NFL talent.

Griffin squandered no time doing so, extraordinary everybody—including his associate linebackers—Saturday by completing 20 reps in a 225-pound dais press with a prosthetic device clamped to a weight bar.

If that wasn’t enough, Griffin ran a 4.38-second 40-yard lurch Sunday on his initial try during Lucas Oil Stadium, environment a awe bar even higher. It was a same 40 time Shaquill had run a year prior—but Shaquem is 33 pounds heavier.

The ancestral feat did not go unnoticed:

Not a bad approach to browbeat your mix experience. Griffin’s second 40 time of 4.58 was some-more in line with what one would design of a 227-pound linebacker, though it’s a initial time that will hang with observers. Moreover, it will have NFL crew going behind to his diversion fasten with a Knights, anticipating to compare that lane speed to margin speed.

They will have no emanate doing so. Whatever we competence consider of Griffin’s NFL future, there’s no doubt he plays with extensive speed and limit effort, careening around a margin to stop plays distant divided from his indicate of start too mostly for it to be a fluke.

Griffin available 44 solo tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, one interception and dual forced fumbles in 2017 after he amassed 57 solo tackles, 20.0 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, one interception and dual forced fumbles in 2016. He is zero if not an impact actor on a field.

“So many people are going to have doubts about what we can do, and obviously, it started during a dais press,” Griffin pronounced Saturday, a few hours after he finished his 20 reps. “Some people consider we can do three, some people consider we can do five, some people didn’t consider we could do a dais press. But we did it and competed with everybody else and did 20, and that’s only one step closer to all we need to accomplish. There’s going to be a lot some-more doubters observant what we can’t do, and I’m prepared to infer them wrong.”

That he did. Griffin owned his drills and his press conference, and judging from a ways tip coronet were vocalization about him during a week—before they even met with him—you can suppose he was well-received in group interviews.

“I had somebody tell me they had met John Wooden before and that a feeling they got sitting down with John Wooden for 5 mins was a same feeling they got from him,” Seahawks ubiquitous manager John Schneider pronounced of Griffin progressing in a week, comparing him to a mythological UCLA basketball manager (Seahawks conduct manager Pete Carroll is a outrageous fan of Wooden’s motivational tactics). “I haven’t been means to do that privately yet, so we am flattering vehement about that. He’s a special dude. And we contend that given he was during a Jacksonville diversion and everybody done a large bid to make certain that we only didn’t strike into him and violate any National Football League rules.”

Before assembly with Griffin, Vikings GM Rick Spielman pronounced that, formed on tape, Griffin would be evaluated as any other football player—which is all Griffin has ever wanted.

“Very singular player,” Spielman said. “I haven’t had an event to accommodate him yet, though superb kid. He’s unequivocally sparkling to watch on film given he only plays with his heart, with passion, and he gives we all he has on any snap. we don’t consider [his carrying one hand] should be a factor, only given he’s shown he can be prolific during a high spin opposite some high-level competition. we consider any group will make that determination, though we consider he’s a heck of a football player, and that won’t be a cause for us.”

In addition, Griffin has been a source of impulse to a players he’s spending time with this week, as former Washington linebacker Keishawn Bierria told me Saturday afternoon. Bierria was during a same lectern where Griffin had his star spin a few mins later.

“I was right there when he came down [from a dais press], and we went over and congratulated him,” Bierria said. “That was impressive. Anyone who thinks he can’t do something, that’s his answer, right there. we gamble a lot of people were wondering, ‘How is he gonna do this?’ we knew he’d have something in a bag, and he only got adult there and did his possess thing. He’s a football player, and for him to go out there and hit out 20 reps, it was zero to him. It’s only another partial of this combine. He’s going to do whatever he can to be seen as a football actor for a right group who says, ‘OK—we can do something with this guy.’

“For a male who’s going by that kind of adversity, and he doesn’t even flinch? It’s flattering special. That shows a form of male he is and what he’s peaceful to overcome. He’s violation all barriers, really. He’s peaceful to take any step, and we have zero though honour for him. He stands out, though during a finish of a day, he’s a football player.”

Cardinals ubiquitous manager Steve Keim spoke some-more privately to Griffin’s attributes, observant it’s about being artistic with a talent we have on your roster.

“You have to admire a form of success he’s had already with that impairment,” Keim said. “But we consider when we demeanour during certain players like that, there is something to be pronounced for what is in their heart. It’s something you’d have to speak to a trainers about and see what his restrictions would be relocating forward. Again, putting players in a position to succeed, that would be a key—can he do a things we ask him to do?”

Keim’s difference were intriguing, given a Cardinals have been outside-the-box thinkers when it comes to defensive players; they like hybrid guys who can do mixed things, and they have a specific fashion that could indicate to NFL success for Griffin.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In 2017, Arizona comparison Temple edge-rusher Haason Reddick with a 13th altogether collect in a draft. Because of damage issues, a Cardinals changed him from corner defender to inside pass-rushing linebacker. Reddick had 2.5 sacks and dual forced fumbles in his rookie season.

Griffin competence start his NFL career in a identical fashion—as a moveable chess square in a versatile defense, swapping between blitzing and run-stopping and some coverage.

“After a weigh-in, we talked with a few teams, and they didn’t consider we was going to be means to benefit weight from 227—getting a improved feel of being a ‘Will’ or ‘Sam’ linebacker or in a smoke-stack or in a 3-4 where we can be that male during a line of struggle or be a male who moves around,” Griffin said. “I have some teams tell me we pierce like a DB; well, I’ve been a DB many of my life. we still have a feet for it, and that’s since we was means to be during a Senior Bowl and pierce and swell during any and any position.

“I wish them to know that we don’t have to be a male who only rushes a quarterback. You need somebody to cover? we can cover not only parsimonious ends though slots too. we got a few interceptions opposite some slots. we wish to uncover NFL teams that, whatever we need assistance at, I’m a player. You wish me to play kicker or punter? All we gotta do is get a good widen in, and we can flog a round too.”

In a joining that increasingly prizes versatility, that opinion will go a prolonged way. But a law of Shaquem Griffin is this: You can chuck divided a feel-good story, only as we can junk a account that he’s somehow reduction of a actor than others during his position given he has one hand. The genuine story is of a conspicuous immature male who has transcended what could be a large reduction for others and shown he’s any bit a equal of anyone in his breeze class.

That’s a story a NFL is going with, and that’s a story that will follow Griffin by a rest of a predraft process, by his rookie deteriorate and by a rest of his life.

Of all a things Griffin has been—a brother, an inspiration—and overcome in his life, this week he done it transparent he’s also a damn earnest football player.

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