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Shaquem Griffin: The One NFL Prospect to Know

Seahawks by Mike Morris is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

Shaquem Griffin: The One NFL Prospect to Know

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

February is the worst for sports. We’re in the dead zone between the Super Bowl and when pitchers and catchers report for baseball. It is the period when we get hard hitting stories like how much wine NBA players drink (spoiler: it is expensive and they drink a lot of it). To keep myself from going crazy I skipped ahead to the NFL draft. After doing some research, I realized there is one prospect that everyone should know: Shaquem Griffin.

Wait, who is Shaquem Griffin?

Forget the explosive Saquon Barkley and “thick/sturdy” (really, SI?) Sam Darnold. Shaquem Griffin, a star linebacker for The University of Central Florida, is the player you should root for. He finished last season for the undefeated Knights with 74 total tackles, 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Oh, and one interception.Not impressed? Well you should be, because the guy did it with one hand.

Shaquem lost his hand as a child of four to amniotic band syndrome, a congenital birth defect that occurs in about one in every 1,200 births.The lack of a hand doesn’t impact his style of play – it is fast and hard – but does impact the perception others have of him. In an interview with Sports Illustrated Shaquem discussed the disrespect shown by the USF coaching staff, who didn’t give him a scholarship until they saw him play with their own eyes, simply because of his condition:

“You’re not saying I’m not mentally capable,” Shaquem says. “You’re not saying I’m not fast enough. You’re not saying I’m not strong enough. The only reason you’re saying I can’t do something is because I have one hand.”

Griffin first came on my radar in a 62-55 overtime win for UCF against Memphis in early December. A game in which he recorded 6 tackles and 2 sacks:

The thing that stood out about Shaquem wasn’t the fact that he played Division 1 college football with one hand, which is a victory in itself, but rather how he played the game. He flew to the ball, and when he tackled someone you felt it through the screen.

He’s the type of player offenses overlook when they first scan the field, but learn to fear as the game progresses. I can picture NFL special teams coaches that are looking for a new gunner watch film of Shaquem and immediately put him high on their list. Some players just have “it” and Shaquem is one of them.

Shaquem Griffin’s Football Future

I doubted the NFL would give Griffin the chance to show coaches what he could do in person. I thought they would take one look at him, attribute his stats to playing in the AAC and move on. A great story they’d say, but that’s all. Thankfully, I was very wrong and Shaquem deservedly received an invite to attend the 2018 NFL combine:

Griffin earned the title of Practice Player of the Week at the Senior Bowl, which helped his draft stock. Not only that, he also recorded 12 total tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl against Auburn.

Look for Shaquem to be highlighted numerous times over the course of the NFL Draft. He will most likely be picked in rounds 5-7 to be a special teams ace or nickel corner. And when he does get drafted, you’ll be able to drop some serious knowledge on your friends and family.

Mark was raised outside of Boston, so his favorite socks are red and the only Giants he'll ever like are the little ones. He is a michelada advocate and a big fan of 8 game parlays that never work. He has been writing about sports since starting his own blog in 2014, Don't Think Just Throw, and is excited to be a part of The Turf.

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