Shaquem Griffin finally got the call he and all of UCF fandom had been waiting for. In the fifth round of the NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Griffin with the 141st overall pick, reuniting him with his twin brother Shaquill.
For obvious reasons, it was a moment that transcended the sport.
First, how it went down, from the Seahawks' perspective:
On the other end of that phone call:
Seahawks fans reaction:
Later on, Shaquem and his brother Shaquill take the stage in Arlington:
Then, the media reaction. First, on NFL Network:
Then, on CBS Sports HQ:
And some out-of-this-world reaction from another person who also worked with his twin brother:
Congratulations to @Shaquemgriffin for getting drafted in #NFLDraft18 by @Seahawks to play alongside his twin brother, @ShaquillG. I had a similar privilege to serve with my twin, @ShuttleCDRKelly at #NASA- a privilege of a lifetime. Good luck! https://t.co/k5T9fJcoxl— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) April 29, 2018
Now Some Analysis
First, Pete Carroll says he will play Shaquem at outside linebacker in their 4-3. There had been grumblings that the reason Griffin fell to the fifth round was that he was a "tweener" - too small to play linebacker but too slow to play defensive back (although his 40 time blew that up). But his versatility, speed, and special teams ability are what pushed him over the top for the Seahawks.
Pete Carroll says he will play Shaquem Griffin at the Weak linebacker spot. He’ll also contribute on special teams. #Seahawks— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) April 28, 2018
Second, let's be honest. This is the best possible scenario for Shaquem to start his professional career. His brother famously insisted during their college recruitment that whichever school offered him a scholarship would have to offer Shaquem as well if they had any hope of landing him. Many (including USF) balked, but UCF didn't. They had been inseparable throughout their lives, even as Shaquem dealt with the amputation of his left hand as a toddler.
Nothing changed until Shaquill got drafted by the Seahawks in 2017. Shaquem redshirted his freshman year at UCF while Shaquill played, so last year was the first that the two were separate.
While Shaquem's production decreased from his AAC Defensive Player of the Year season in 2016, this was largely due to the secret being out from the previous year. He finished his UCF career with his greatest performance in the Peach Bowl.
In addition, he also signed an endorsement deal with Nike during Day 2 of the Draft:
Nike signs one-handed linebacker Shaquem Griffin. Griffin has signed four draft weekend deals https://t.co/A70MiQQI8r— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 27, 2018
Now, with the two reunited in Seattle, the scene is set for a great success story.
From the Seahawks' Perspective
As for the Seahawks themselves, they finished 11th in the NFL in total defense last year, but were 19th in rush defense.
They have a devastating linebacking corps right now with Bobby Wagner in the middle, and KJ Wright and the recently-signed Barkevious Mingo on the outside.
Wagner is locked up to a massive 4-year, $43 million deal through 2019. But Wright is heading into a contract year in which he will make $7.2 million, and Mingo just signed a two-year deal with an out after 2018. If the Seahawks decide to move on from either player (and their sizeable salaries), Griffin - with his rookie contract - will get his shot.
In the meantime, he will have to prove himself on special teams - an area in which he excelled at UCF.
From UCF's Perspective
As far as UCF is concerned, Griffin is the third-ever UCF linebacker taken in the draft, alongside Rick Hamilton, an Orlando Predators legend who was picked by Washington in 1993, and Bob Spitulski, who was picked by those same Seattle Seahawks in 1992 and played in the NFL through 1996.
Griffin was also the fourth UCF Knight taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, which tied a school record set in 2003:
This year ties 2003 as the year with the most @UCF_Football players taken in the #NFLDraft with 4.— Black & Gold Banneret (@UCF_Banneret) April 28, 2018
2003: @pick_six22, Doug Gabriel, Mike Mabry and @Eltonpatterson.
2018: @_Bigmikee1, @TreQuanSmithUCF, @JAkins88 and @Shaquemgriffin. #BuiltByUCF #UCF #ChargeOn
What a way to finish the most successful NFL Draft in school history.