Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Weight: 273 pounds
40 time: 4.66
One of the most complete defensive end prospects in the 2010 NFL Draft, Everson Griffen enters the NFL with a boatload of potential and upside. A one-year starter who was inconsistent as a true freshman and sophomore, Griffen put everything together in 2009 when he recorded 45 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and eight sacks; he finished his career with the Trojans with 84 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and 18 sacks.
Everson put on a show at the 2010 Scouting Combine where he tied for second in the 40-yard dash (4.66) among all defensive linemen and he was tied for sixth on the bench with 32 reps. A complete defensive end who plays the run just as well as he rushes the passer, Griffen has an outstanding combination of size, strength, and athleticism for an end. He’s a very strong and physical player up front who plays with very good leverage in the run game; he also understands how to fight off blocks to get into the backfield. As a pass rusher, he owns a burst with great explosiveness and quickness off the snap. With how strong he is, Everson is completely capable of bull-rushing his way into the backfield, however he also has a fine swim and rip move that he can use as well. Everson has great vision with the ability to see into the backfield and take the proper angles, whether it’s to the ball carrier or to the quarterback.
One thing that I love about his game is the aggressiveness and tenacity that he plays with; when he’s on, he’s one of the hardest players in the country to stop. Griffen also has experience dropping back into coverage as a linebacker and he spent a decent amount of time lining up as an end with his hand off the ground, so moving to linebacker at the next level isn’t out of the question.
The biggest question mark with Everson is his inconsistency and his drive; some coaches and scouts have questioned his work ethic off the field as well as whether or not he’s willing to do the small things off the field to become a better player. While at USC, his motor was a bit hot and cold, and his inconsistent play is one reason why he wasn’t a full-time starter in his first two years with the Trojans. He’s still a bit raw as a prospect in terms of understanding the game and how to use his fantastic talent and tools to be the best player that he can be; landing with a good position coach in the NFL will help him to become the player that he’s capable of being.
With how strong he is, his strength doesn’t always translate to the field in terms of how he plays; this is another thing that he will want to work on. One reason why he may not have had as many sacks as you’d think a player with his talent would have had is because he may have dropped back into coverage too often while at USC. I project that Griffen will be drafted in the late-first to early-second round.
I like Griffen more than other scouts because I think that his upside and potential are as high as any defensive end in this year’s draft. I personally feel that Everson’s skill set is a perfect fit as a 4-3 defensive end at the next level, however I could also see him being drafted by a 3-4 team to play outside rush linebacker. Griffen is a player who I think has a tremendous amount of untapped potential and I think that, if he can get his mind right off the field, his best football could be in his future.
Notes: Everson was named second-team All-Pac 10 in 2009. A former top recruit, Griffen was rated as the No. 1 player in the state of Arizona as well as the No. 1 strong-side defensive end and No. 6 overall player in the country by Rivals.com when he was coming out of high school. As a senior in high school, he made 77 tackles, 16 sacks and a fumble recovery as a defensive end and ran for 1,251 yards and 20 touchdowns on 159 carries (7.9 yards per carry) as a running back. His cousin is former Arizona State running back Keegan Herring.
Griffen has the size and speed to be an impact player in the NFL.
Unfortunately, though, he may be drafted by a team that runs the 3-4 defense, in which case he’d be listed as a linebacker, and thus would affect his fantasy value. If he’s drafted by a team that runs the traditional 4-3, he would be a solid contributor at DE.
Griffen gets a great jump on the snap count and will improve upon his sack totals, especially if drafted into a 4-3 scheme. His speed will allow him to drop back in coverage, thus keeping him on the field for most snaps.