The NFL draft is a showcase for overcoming adversity

Bryan Hudnell | Staff Writer

There were 256 picks in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) Draft and each prospect selected had a different story to tell. 

Whether it was former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen growing up in Manhattan Beach, California with an affluent family or former Georgia running back Nick Chubb overcoming a gruesome knee injury in 2015 against Tennessee, all of these draft picks overcame some sort of adversity and their full stories were on display during this year’s NFL Draft.

It started with the very first pick when the Cleveland Browns selected former Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield to be their franchise quarterback. 

His journey began with him walking on at Texas Tech in 2013, where he started as a true freshman until he got hurt. Mayfield then chose to transfer to Oklahoma where he would walk on again and won the starting job. In three seasons, Mayfield would lead the Sooners to two College Football Playoff semifinal appearances and would go on to win the Heisman Trophy in his senior season.

Mayfield came along way from Lake Travis High School, but, even though he proved himself on the field early on, his concerns about his character seemed to be the hardest to shake. Getting arrested in Arkansas, planting the flag at Ohio State, grabbing his crotch at Kansas — Mayfield was one of the most polarizing players in college sports. 

None of that stopped the Browns from picking him number one overall and for the first time, Mayfield is sitting on top and he is going to have to prove himself once more now that he is the first overall pick.

On any normal draft, Mayfield would have the most inspirational story but that distinction belongs to former University of Central Florida (UCF) linebacker Shaquem Griffin. Griffin was selected in the 5th round, pick 141 overall to the Seattle Seahawks to join his twin brother Shaquill and the first one-handed player to be drafted in the NFL. 

Griffin was born with a condition known as Amniotic band constriction affecting his left hand, causing his fingers on that hand not to fully develop. During the pre-draft process, Griffin did not initially receive an invitation to this year’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and had to wait until he earned one after impressing at the Senior Bowl just weeks prior. At the combine, Griffin put up one of the most impressive individual combine performances to date. In the 40-yard dash, Griffin ran a 4.38 which is the fastest time by a linebacker in more than a decade. He also benched 20 reps in the bench press with a prosthetic hand.

All of Griffin’s efforts were worth it as he will have the same opportunity as 253 other draftees. He has the opportunity to compete for a Seattle Seahawks team that lost some key pieces this offseason and can quickly establish himself in one of most fear defenses in the league. Griffin will likely start out on special teams, but he has as good of a shot as anyone to make an impact.

It’s stories like these that make the draft the best part of the NFL. Each draft class has its own collection of players of from different backgrounds that can either lift you up or break your heart. These players sacrifice so much in order to achieve their dream of becoming professional athletes and it’s hard not to root for them. Not all of us can make it to the level these athletes get to, but we can all aspire to have their work ethic and motivation to be the best version of ourselves. It is the most practical skill a person can have.