MOBILE, Ala. – The most versatile player at the Senior Bowl this week has also faced probably the most adversity throughout his football career.
Linebacker, edge rusher and safety – he's played them all – Shaquem Griffin has just one hand. His left hand was amputated when he was four years old after he was born with a deformity.
"It's not a disability until you make it (one)," Griffin said early in the week.
Boy, has he proven that statement to be right on the money.
Griffin has excelled this week as an edge rusher and cover linebacker, and has even shown great awareness and skill playing safety at practice for the South team. He caused havoc in special teams drills, too.
"The only thing I have to do here is basically do what I've already been doing: Play hard, play fast, stay true to who I am, have faith and everything's going to play out just fine," Griffin said. "The more and more I'm going fast and making plays, they're going to forget how many hands I have."
As NFL talent evaluators try to figure out where Griffin could fit best at the NFL level, to his credit, he's made that decision tougher this week with his ability to do a lot of different things well.
"We're trying to move him around. I think that's what the NFL wants to see, so we're trying to do things so everybody can get a look at him at safety, at linebacker, and maybe even as a DPR (designated pass rusher) and on special teams," South head coach Bill O'Brien (Texans) told the NFL Network after Wednesday's practice.
"We moved him around a lot (Wednesday)."
Griffin (6-2, 223) has taken it all in stride. He was an outstanding two-year starter at UCF and named the 2016 AAC Defensive Player of the Year after recording 92 tackles, 20.0 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He had 74 tackles this past season with 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks.
He had 12 tackles (3.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks in UCF's 34-27 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl win over Auburn this year.
Griffin's twin brother Shaquill Griffin, who is older by a minute, was a third-round pick by Seattle in last year's draft and had a terrific rookie season.
Griffin is very informed of the pre-draft process after watching his brother go through it last season, and knows it's all about making the most of opportunities. He's doing that at the Senior Bowl, and is hopeful that will continue at the NFL Scouting Combine next month. Shaquem currently isn't an invite to the Combine in Indianapolis next month, which is actually quite silly, but that could change after the week he's had at the Senior Bowl.
Griffin is a great story for anyone who's been told they can't do something or has what some would consider a disability. To those detractors that don't think Shaquem Griffin can play in the NFL because he only has one hand. He has a message for them.
"Make sure you stay tuned in," he told the NFL Network. "I have a surprise for you."