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12 Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 12, LB Shaquem Griffin

Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin's speed should translate well in coverage. (AP)

Mike Salk and Brock Huard are counting down the 12 most intriguing Seahawks players every weekday morning at 9:30 a.m. leading up to the first day of training camp on July 26.

The pair kicked things off Wednesday morning by focusing on their No. 12 pick: rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin.

At a glance: The Seahawks took Griffin in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft, the second year in a row they took a member of his family (twin brother Shaquill is a cornerback for Seattle). Shaqueem Griffin (6-0, 227) finished his last year at Central Florida with 74 combined tackles, seven sacks, and one interception.

Griffin garnered the attention of national pundits with his impressive 2017 season at UCF, and later turned heads at the combine with a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash. But he captured the attention of NFL fans all over the country with his story: he became the first one-handed player to be drafted when the Seahawks selected him with the 141st-overall pick.

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Brock’s take: Huard believes the Seahawks’ 2018 season will be defined by the performance of notable veterans like quarterback Russell Wilson, wide receiver Doug Baldwin, left tackle Duane Brown, and linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.

But incoming rookies can still make an impression and, if that impression is convincing enough, have a real impact. The key?

“Speed,” Huard said. “Can a rookie come in and absolutely flash like Tyler Lockett? Yes. Like Russell Wilson? Yes. Largely, they do it with speed. And that’s the way Griffin is going to have to do it. What I’ll be wondering is: can we feel 4.4 at training camp in two weeks? Am I going to feel it up in the booth (during the season)? Are we going to feel that speed? Because if we don’t, he won’t play a huge role.”

Huard said what Griffin did best at UCF was manage to fly all over the football field, regardless of his position, and he’s eager to see if the Seahawks’ newest linebacker can bring the same energy to Seattle.

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Salk’s take: “Griffin is intriguing to me for a number of reasons. Number one: what position is he going to play? Is he going to be just an outside linebacker, is he going to rush the quarterback a little bit as sort of a D-end hybrid? Will we see him play a little safety? He certainly has the speed to do that.”

But it’s Griffin’s story that is most intriguing to Salk. For him, Griffin’s journey – and his potential to accomplish an impressive feat as a one-handed player – also feels personal.

“You’re looking at it in terms of the role he’s going to play on the field, and yes, that’s part of the reason he’s intriguing. But that’s not why he’s on this list. A fifth-rounder doesn’t make this list based on whether or not he can contribute behind K.J. Wright at linebacker, and maybe contribute a little bit on special teams. He makes this list because the guy’s got one hand. And if can prove that he can play in the NFL and overcome (that), that challenge is what truly makes him intriguing.

“And obviously this is personal for me a little bit,” Salk said, in reference to his own story of battling back through baseball after an accident in 1990 left him with limited use of his hand.

“It’s why I’m so interested in it: growing up since the age of 12 having a hand that does not function like everybody else’s, and finding ways to play sports. If this guy can do it, that story is miraculous. It’s inspiring. It changes the way you view the whole Seahawks team, and hopefully the way some of these guys approach the game. There’s a bunch of reasons why he’s intriguing on the field and off the field, but number one is, if he can get this done – what a story.”