RENTON - He wasn't the first selection the Seahawks made on the final day of the 2018 NFL Draft, but there's no question that Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin was its most popular.
Griffin, the twin brother of Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin, was the first of four fifth-round selections by the Seahawks on Saturday. Shaquem had his left hand amputated as a child due to a birth defect that left him in constant pain.
Shaquem said he was on his way to the bathroom when a call came into his phone with a 425 area code on it. Shaquill, who had been holding his phone and knew the area code, chased Shaquem into the bathroom to tackle Shaquem and tell him he had to take the call.
"I think I was more scared of him tackling me in the bathroom and not knowing what was happening than anything," Shaquem said.
Despite the lack of a hand, Griffin was the All-American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and was a two-time first-team All-AAC selection. He was also the Defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl and helped carry Central Florida to an undefeated season.
"I'm not going to change anything about the way I play," Shaquem said. "I'm still going to tackle. I'm still going to catch the ball. I'm still going to make plays. I'm still going to make a difference. Everybody thinks of the sentimental story but Shaquem Griffin doesn't think like that. I'm a guy who is going to be able to come in, I'm going to work my butt off. I'm going to learn as fast as possible and I want to contribute the best way possible.
"If you want me to rush, I will rush and I'll give everything I've got. If you want me to cover, I will cover and I'm going to give everything I've got. Nothing will change about me. I am a football player at the end of the day and if you want to feel sorry or have any pity on me, well then they're going to be the ones who got to get up off their back."
While the Seahawks drafted Shaquill's brother is a nice story in its own right, it would have been a mistake if that was the only reason he was selected. But Shaquem is a highly accomplished player in his own right and racked up numerous accolades during his career at Central Florida.
"He is incredibly inspiring," general manager John Schneider said. "One of the most interesting things about this guy as a football player, is that he makes his plays at critical moments in the game. You can see it when you’re watching film, and then when the analytics guys throw their numbers at you, you go wow. Really impressive. He doesn’t miss any more tackles than the average linebacker in this draft. The rest of his stuff is just off the charts."
Griffin will be a weakside linebacker for Seattle out of the gate that has pass rushing ability. He should quickly become a special teams standout as well.
"We’re going to try to put him in spots where we can utilize the great speed that he has, and he’s as fast as you can get as a linebacker," head coach Pete Carroll said.
Seattle's first pick of day three had local ties as well. Washington tight end Will Dissly was selected by the Seahawks with the 120th overall pick. He's a highly-skilled blocker and further emphasizes just how desperately Seattle wants to fix the rushing attack this offseason. Using two of their first three draft picks on a running back and blocking tight end speak highly to Carroll's offseason crusade.
"It was right on the mark, it was exactly what we hoped to do," Carroll said of adding Rashaad Penny and Dissly.
Schneider compared Dissly to former Seahawk tight end Zach Miller in discussing Dissly's attributes.
"Probably the closest to Zach that we've seen," he said.
Tre Flowers primarily played safety at Oklahoma State but is viewed as a cornerback prospect by the Seahawks. Flowers is listed at 6-foot-3, 202 pounds and his arms were measured at 33 7/8 inches, which is a prototypical mold for Seattle cornerbacks.
"The fact that he’s over 6-foot-3 and that he runs 4.4 (40-yard dash) and that he’s got great length and good ball skills and he’s a good tackler and works hard at the game in general," Carroll said. "He had a great workout with our scouts. That workout showed us some of the change of direction stuff that would apply at the cornerback position."
Seattle traded one of their two seventh-round picks to the Denver Broncos to move up from the 156th overall pick to the 149th overall pick. With their newly acquired selection, they drafted Texas punter Michael Dickson.
Dickson was an Australian Rules Football player before converting to American football and coming to the United States. He was named MVP of the Texas Bowl against Missouri after 10 of his 11 punts on the night came to rest inside Missouri's 15-yard line. Four of them stopped inside the 5-yard line.
"This guy does stuff with the ball that’s amazing," Schneider said.
Added Carroll: "He has a rugby background and an Australian kid. It’s where he comes from. He brings to us techniques that we haven’t even seen people try. So, the ball moves in different directions, he can do a lot of stuff."
Ohio State left tackle Jamarco Jones and Temple defensive Jacob Martin were selected with fifth- and sixth-round picks to bolster the team's lines on both sides of the ball.
Jones played the last two seasons as the starting left tackle at Ohio State and will stay on the left side with Seattle. Martin played through a broken foot in Temple's bowl game against Florida International and will be a LEO pass rusher for the Seahawks.
Florida International quarterback Alex McGough becomes just the second quarterback selected during the Carroll and Schneider era in Seattle. The other one, of course, is Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
"He has different release points which is really cool. In all his stuff, there’s this category now called "off the spot" where you just watch this guy play where he’s got to move and of all the guys in this class, Baker (Mayfield) was first, which makes sense with his movement skills and his eyes, in terms of his completion percentage. (Mayfield) was 58 percent, which is really high, and this guy was 54 percent, he was second and Sam Darnold was third at 48 percent," Schneider said.
McGough sustained a broken collarbone in the team's bowl game against Temple in December, but has recovered since then.
McGough completed 232 of 355 passes for 2,798 yards last season with 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 231 yards and five touchdowns on 78 carries and said he has some experience running the read-option as well.
"His head coach (Butch Davis) was pretty adamant about this guy," Schneider said.
Rd. 1, Pick 27 -- Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
Rd. 3, Pick 79 -- Rasheem Greene, DE, USC
Rd. 4, Pick 120 -- Will Dissly, TE, Washington
Rd. 5, Pick 141 -- Shaquem Griffin, OLB, Central Florida
Rd. 5, Pick 146 -- Tre Flowers, CB, Oklahoma State
Rd. 5, Pick 149 -- Michael Dickson, P, Texas
Rd. 5, Pick 168 -- Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State
Rd. 6, Pick 186 -- Jacob Martin, DE, Temple
Rd. 7, Pick 220 -- Alex McGough, QB, Florida International
Photo Credit: ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights sacks Jarrett Stidham #8 of the Auburn Tigers in the third quarter during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)