Central Florida’s Shaquem Griffin poses for photos on the red carpet before the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Seahawks reunite linebacker with twin brother

Shaquem Griffin to become NFL’s first one-handed player

ARLINGTON, Texas — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is known for taking chances on players. So many, from Richard Sherman to Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin, have worked out.

On Saturday, Carroll and GM John Schneider spent the 141st overall selection in the NFL draft on linebacker Shaquem Griffin.

That fifth-round choice, announced in Seattle, drew loud cheers from fans at AT&T Stadium. Griffin, whose left hand was amputated when he was young, has become the feel-good story this year and one of the most popular players in this draft because of his perseverance, outgoing personality and, of course, his talent.

Griffin helped Central Florida go undefeated last season, then blew through the NFL combine with a 4.38 in the 40, sensational lifting work with his prostethic, and a can-do attitude.

Exactly the sort of player the Seahawks seem to find they drafted his twin brother, Shaquill, out of UCF last year.

Griffin was at the first two days of the draft, sitting through 100 picks without hearing his name.

“It’s been a really good experience,” he said. “I would have been crazy to turn and experience down like this. I’m just glad I was one of the selected few to be here.”

Griffin had one of the more unusual ways of finding out he was chosen.

“I was using the restroom and my brother came and tackled me with my cellphone, saying ‘answer it, answer it,’ and I looked, and that’s when tears started pouring down,” Griffin explained. “I literally went to use the restroom and that’s when my brother busted in and tackled me. I think I was more scared of him tackling me in the bathroom and not knowing what was happening than anything.”

Griffin’s selection early in the fifth round enlivened a day in which most picks are relatively unknown or obscure players. Not all, though.

Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was taken one spot in front of Griffin by Oakland. The All-American would have gone much earlier, but a heart condition was discovered at the combine, dropping him far down draft boards.

He had 5 1/2 sacks as an interior rusher and led all nose tackles and defensive tackles with 49 total quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

“It’s tough thinking that you’re one of the top players in the draft and having good tape and everything like that, just having to wait,” Hurst said. “You believe you’re better than guys who go ahead of you is tough. I’m just happy to be in the right place and a great organization.”

As for his health, “I’m ready to go right now.”

Another All-American, Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell, was taken by Denver at No. 106. He’s not considered quick, but he is active and seemed to be in on every tackle for the Hawkeyes.

“A lot of that is instincts. A lot of film watching for me,” he said. “It really helped me because I did not run the fastest time ever, not even close. I had to be able to make up from somewhere else.”

All-America punter Michael Dickson of Texas was picked, also by Seattle, in the fifth round. The Australian is a terrific all-around athlete with a powerful leg.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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