Seahawks' Shaquill Griffin on twin Shaquem's combine snub: 'I feel like he's proven enough'

Perhaps no one was more upset than Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin to find out that his identical twin brother Shaquem, a star linebacker from Central Florida, has yet receive an invitation to the NFL's scouting combine.

Not even Shaquem himself.

"I feel like he's proven enough," Shaquill told ESPN.com in a phone interview Wednesday. "I'm not sure what else that he needs to prove to get the invite, but you know there's going to be coaches and teams that's going to have their own opinion about both of us, actually. I feel like after a while, enough is enough. I feel like he's proven enough. But he's never been the type of person to let stuff like that get to him, so I guess I've got to get better at that because I feel like I took it harder than he did."

That reaction is understandable. Shaquill, born a minute earlier, has always been the protective older brother who has had Shaquem's back at every turn. And it makes just as much sense that Shaquem would take that setback in stride given how he has overcome much greater adversity in his life -- not having a left hand, which was amputated at age 4.

Despite that, he was a two-year starter at UCF and the American Athletic Conference's defensive player of the year in 2016. He earned first-team All-AAC honors both seasons.

"I feel like any other player who has the accolades that he has and everything that he's accomplished, he'd be the first person to have a combine invite," Shaquill said. "And you're going to tell me the reason why is because of his situation? That's not fair. I'm not sure what else he has to prove at that point. That's the reason why I stood up [for him], not just because he’s my twin brother. He proved everybody wrong, he did everything he's done, he has all the accolades, he's a baller. I don't see why he shouldn't have a combine invite."

It could still happen.

In fact, it wasn't until around this time a year ago that Shaquill got his invitation after being left off the initial list. His strong performance in Indianapolis included a time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- the fourth-fastest among cornerbacks -- which no doubt helped his draft stock. The Seahawks chose him in the third round at No. 90 overall, the highest draft pick they've spent on a cornerback under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.

Shaquill made the biggest impact of any Seahawks rookie in 2017. He started 11 games at right cornerback and, despite a few inevitable rookie moments, showed that he belongs there for good.

While the Seahawks held their final team meetings and cleaned out their lockers the day after their season ended, UCF was beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl to complete a 13-0 season. Shaquill was following along from his phone as Shaquem filled up the stat sheet with 12 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and 1.5 sacks to earn defensive MVP honors.

His final numbers in 26 games over his two seasons as a starter were eye-popping. A pass-rushing outside linebacker, he finished with 166 tackles, including 33.5 TFLs, plus 18.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions (he had another pick in 2015).

What does a guy have to do to get a combine invite?

There were officially 330 players on the final list last year.

"Shaquill was a great player at UCF, but Shaquem was a great player at UCF and has a lot of accolades," agent Buddy Baker, who represents both brothers, told ESPN.com in a phone interview Wednesday. "As a junior he was the conference player of the year, so while it was disheartening and really surreal with Shaquill at first because we knew what his ability was, you could at least make some sense out of it. This was nonsensical."

As detailed in this ESPN.com story from last year, Shaquem was born with amniotic band syndrome. The five fingers in his left hand weren't fully formed and were often in great pain. That pain was so intolerable one night that Shaquem sprung out of bed and ran into the family's kitchen, where he grabbed a knife with the intention of cutting off his hand. The next day, his parents had it amputated.

According to the NFL, Shaquem would be the first modern-era player with only one hand to be drafted.

Attending the combine is by no means a prerequisite for NFL success. The Seahawks have two good examples of that. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin wasn't invited in 2011. Linebacker Bobby Wagner couldn't make it the following year because of an illness. Baldwin is playing in his second straight Pro Bowl, and Wagner's résumé includes four Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pro selections.

But while Wagner was still drafted in the second round, Baldwin wasn't drafted at all. A chance to work out in front of teams and meet with their decision-makers at the combine surely would have helped.

"I don't know where Shaquem or other guys may get drafted, but I know this: that Shaquem is the type of player, the caliber of player that's going to be in the NFL for a long time," Baker said. "But [not going to the combine] certainly has an impact on your exposure."

Shaquill said Shaquem is "just controlling the only thing he can control." Right now, that's how he performs at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Shaquill said Shaquem couldn't wait to get there "because he just wants to compete and continue to show people stuff like that fuels him."

Senior Bowl coaches had Shaquem play multiple positions on Wednesday, including safety and linebacker. The NFL Network listed him at just over 6 feet tall and 223 pounds, making him undersized by NFL linebacker standards. So moving him around gave teams a chance to see where he might fit at the next level.

During an interview with the NFL Network, Shaquem was asked if he thinks there are still people who doubt he can play in the NFL, and if so, what he would tell them.

"I definitely feel that way," he said. "I know there's a lot of people on the outside looking in saying, 'I don't think he can get this job done.' The only thing I could tell them is make sure you stay tuned in. I've got a surprise for you."