Former UCF Knights who are entering the 2018 NFL Draft in April put on their final workouts in front of coaches, scouts, and members of the media during its Pro Day on Thursday at Nicholson Fieldhouse. The players partook in a variety of different skill challenges designed for everyone, as well as ones specific to particular positions.
The Pro Day is not run in the same fashion as the NFL Scouting Combine held in Indianapolis. League personnel will visit each university that has athletes planning to take their talents to the next level. Players often times feel they have a home-field advantage working out at their own facilities.
Star-Linebacker Shaquem Griffin has accomplished a lot on the field despite his left hand being amputated when he was four years old. He worked with the defensive backs to show his versatility as a player. Griffin has gained national attention in the past two seasons. He won the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2016 and earned second-team All-American honors in 2017.
“It just shows that I’ve been putting in a lot of work and it’s paying off now. I mean, I was a guy who was under the radar and they didn’t believe in me at first, but I think they’re starting to believe now,” he said.
Griffin also told reporters he has received an invite from the NFL to attend this year’s draft in Dallas. If drafted, he will join his twin brother, Shaquill who plays for the Seattle Seahawks as a member of the league. The thought of playing on the same team as his brother is not something he has ruled out. He has already met and interviewed with Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll.
“I’m pretty sure he could see in my face how I excited I was to meet with him, the coaching staff and everybody there. When I walked in, they treated me like family and there’s no better feeling than that,” said Griffin.
Former Defensive Back and potential first-round pick, Mike Hughes is another player from UCF who’s climbing up draft boards for his talents as a defender and kick returner. According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst, Hughes has a pre-draft visit scheduled with the defending Super Bowl champion, Philadelphia Eagles. The Valencia Voice asked Hughes if he models his game after a player in the professional ranks.
“Patrick Peterson [of the Arizona Cardinals], he’s a guy that does punt returns, he has great ball-skills, and I think we share some of those same characteristics,” Hughes said.
Between now and the draft, players will be working to stay in shape while scheduling visits with teams at their facilities. The NFL Draft begins on April 26 and will be simulcast on ESPN and NFL-Network.