An NFL draft prospect with one hand — who wasn't originally invited to the combine — dazzled the football world with his performance

  • Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who plays with one hand after his left hand was amputated when he was four years old, dazzled at the NFL combine.
  • Griffin did 20 reps during the bench press with a prosthetic hand, then ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, the fastest of any linebacker.
  • Griffin received a late invitation to the combine and was considered a fringe prospect, but now may have elevated himself into the third or fourth round of the draft.

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin became the star of the NFL Draft combine over the weekend with a dazzling performance.

Griffin, the 2016 American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year, initially wasn't invited to the combine before receiving a late invitation.

Adding to Griffin's story is that he had to have his left hand amputated when he was four years old because of a congenital disease. Griffin has played one-handed his whole life and used a prosthetic hand gripped to the bar during the bench press, which is when he first turned heads.

Griffin told reporters that his goal was six reps of 225 lb. He did 20 at the combine.

 

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Shaquem Griffin's college football career
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Shaquem Griffin's college football career
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: UCF Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin (18) leaves the field for halftime of the Peach Bowl between the UCF Knights and the Auburn Tigers. UCF defeated Auburn by the score off 34-27 at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Auburn Tigers quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) is sacked by UCF Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin (18) during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl football game of the UCF Knights v Auburn Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights celebrates after sacking Jarrett Stidham #8 of the Auburn Tigers (not pictured) in the third quarter during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights holds the trophy after defeating the Auburn Tigers 34-27 to win the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
UCF player Shaquem Griffin revovers a fumble during the American Athletic Conference Championship Game of UCF versus Memphis at Spectrum Stadium Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 in Orlando. UCF beat Memphis 62-55. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights gestures in the first half against the Auburn Tigers during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 11: Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights screams during warmup prior to a NCAA football game between the University of Connecticut Huskies and the UCF Knights on November 11, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin (18) celebrates after returning a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter against Austin Peay at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. UCF won, 73-33. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 07: Hayden Moore #8 of the Cincinnati Bearcats throws a pass under pressure from Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights during the first half at Nippert Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Quarterback Quinton Flowers #9 of the South Florida Bulls breaks free from linebacker Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images)
UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin celebrates on the sidelines after a turnover against Cincinnati at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. UCF won, 24-3. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 12: Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights is seen during a NCAA football game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Bright House Networks Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
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Griffin told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that when he first got fitted for the prosthetic hand, he struggled to lift with it, saying he could barely bench the 45 lb bar. But he kept working on it and moved up to doing 20 reps of 225 lb.

 

"We went to go get it fitted for me, and when I started lifting, I could barely bench the bar," he said. "I mean, I’m shaking all over the place and the bar is falling, and I can’t lift 45 pounds. But it just goes to show how much work I put in to get to this point."

 

Griffin continued to dazzle by running a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, the fastest time of any linebacker since 2006, when ESPN began recording the times.

 

 

Griffin's time was the third-fastest of the combine, trailing only two wide receivers. 

 

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's reaction to Griffin's time was revealing.

 

 

Some of the biggest names in the NFL tweeted their thoughts about Griffin's performance.

 

 

Some in the NFL world think Griffin's performance indicated how he could perform at the pro-level — relentlessly and with heart.

 

According to King, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton noted that some players will try to play through hand injuries during the season. Griffin, meanwhile, has played that his entire life and is accustomed to it, playing with high energy at every level.

 

Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman told Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar: "He's very exciting to watch on film because he just plays with his heart, with passion, and he gives you everything he has on every snap. I don't think [his having one hand] should be a factor, just because he's shown he can be productive at a high level against some high-level competition."

 

According to King, Griffin may have elevated himself from a sixth- or seventh-round pick to third- or fourth- with his performance. While some question the importance of combine tests, clearly Griffin is an example of how it can change a prospect's outlook.

 

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