Editor's note: The Seattle Seahawks drafted UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin in the fifth round, No. 141 overall. Brady Henderson's story was originally published on April 25.
SEATTLE -- During his interview with the Seattle Seahawks at the scouting combine -- the only formal one he had with any team in Indianapolis -- Shaquem Griffin briefly went from questionee to questioner.
That's when he asked coach Pete Carroll what he thought a fast time would be in the 40-yard dash, which Griffin was set to run the next day.
"He was like, 'For a linebacker -- 4.5, 4.6,'" Griffin recalled last week in an interview with ESPN.com. "And I said, 'I didn’t ask you what was fast for a linebacker. I said what was fast?' He said, 'Oh, 4.4, 4.5,' and I was like, 'Just make sure you pay attention, because if you blink, you might miss it.'"
Perhaps you've heard what happened next: Griffin ran the 40 in 4.38 seconds, the fastest time for a linebacker in more than a decade and the same time posted last year by his twin brother, Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin. It was part of an outstanding showing for Shaquem in Indianapolis, one that further validated him as more than a feel-good story as he tries to become the first player with only one hand to be drafted during the NFL's modern era. It was more evidence that he's also a solid prospect.
So could he potentially be in play for Seattle, where he'd reunite with his brother? Yes, but with a caveat: Griffin might have to still be on the board in the fourth round for the Seahawks, who don't have a second- or third-round pick, to strongly consider him.
It would make sense on a few levels.
It's a need position for the Seahawks, for starters. They have one of the NFL's better linebacker duos in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, but there's not much in the pipeline behind them. Barkevious Mingo, the projected starter on the strong side, is only signed for one year and the only other linebackers on the roster are D.J. Alexander and Paul Dawson.
The Seahawks lost a ton of talent on that side of the ball this offseason with Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson all gone. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril might not be back from their neck/spine injuries, and there's still a chance that the team trades Earl Thomas.
Seattle's defense needs an infusion of young playmakers, and that's what Griffin was at Central Florida, where he was named the American Athletic Conference's Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and was a first-team All-AAC selection in both of his seasons as a starter.
Where exactly Griffin fits at the next level is uncertain, and there's the obvious question of how much he'll be impacted by only having one hand. But his highlight reel at UCF is too long for him not to be able to at least help a defense, even if it's just in a sub-package role.
"I could see him in Seattle just because, for one, his speed," draft analyst Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com told ESPN.com. "That fits in so well with what Pete Carroll has prioritized.
“And then for two, his story, his ability to overcome some challenges, that's something it seems like the Seahawks have prioritized."
Indeed, Carroll and general manager John Schneider have been drawn to players who have shown an ability to persevere through hardships or setbacks. They call it grit.
"A lot of their players have built themselves up past challenges off the field, and I think that creates a mental toughness that projects pretty well to football," Rang said. "When it's a tight game, who's going to crack mentally? Players who've had to overcome some challenges off the field are often those players who are able to rise to those challenges on the field."
Along those lines, Schneider notably had some lofty praise for Griffin at the combine.
"I can’t tell you who, but I had somebody tell me they had met John Wooden before and that the feeling they got sitting down with John Wooden for five minutes was the same feeling they got from him," Schneider said. "He’s a special dude."
You can bet that the Griffins have thought about what it would be like to play together in the NFL.
Heck, they've been talking about it since they were 5 years old, Shaquem said.
"It would definitely be something," he said. "Probably create a 'Legion of Griffins' there. That would be kind of cool. Being able to be beside my brother again would be a dream come true. That would be one heck of a story, I can tell you that. What more can you ask for? That’s like a fairy tale."