Everson Griffen, USC

everson-grifffen

Defensive End

USC

Junior

6’ 3” 280 lbs.

Strengths: Quickness, Speed, Size, Athletic Ability

Weaknesses: Inconsistent, Poor Hands, Underdeveloped.

By Bryan Dietzler

Performed very well at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine.

Choosing to come out a year early may end up helping Griffen much more than it hurts him as he should be one of the most sought after defensive end prospects in the NFL.  While he is still a little bit raw and may need some fine tuning when he lands in the NFL but if he can get with the right team, Griffen could have a great career in the league.

There is a lot of upside to Griffen and he has the chance to be one of the best defensive ends taken in the 2010 NFL Draft.  The first thing that scouts will notice about Griffen is his size.  At six feet three inches and 280 pounds Griffen has the ideal height to play either defensive end and quite possibly outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and could see bigger success in the 3-4 alignment.  He also has solid speed and can get up the field in a hurry.  He was in the backfield long before some offensive players realized what was going on.  He has a big and quick first step when going up the field and could get past offensive tackles and tight ends in a hurry. 

Griffen has a lot of experience playing at the linebacker position (primarily in pass rush situations) so that experience could be a big asset to the NFL team that picks him.  In doing that, he was also exposed to coverage situations which should help him out a lot in the NFL as well.  When covering backs out of the backfield and making plays on runs to the outside, Griffen has the speed and ability to purse the play and make it as well.   He is also a good athlete with good balance and great agility.  He has solid range and plays at a good pad level as well.  He also moves pretty well for his weight and moves around very well when sifting through the trash at the line. 

Griffen moves up and down the line with strong powerful moves and with a lot of strength.  He is able to miss opposing players making an attempt to cut block him thanks to his ability to keep his legs moving and turn and twist to avoid those blocks.  Using his quickness, Griffen moves around well in space.  He also plays very well against the run and stays in his lane and gets off of blocks pretty well.  He has the quickness to get down the box quickly and beat the running back to the line of scrimmage. 

He has very powerful long arms and a frame that is very similar to some of the more successful NFL defensive ends.   His upper body strength should end up being one of the best in the 2010 NFL Draft and with that he is able pack a powerful first punch and handle offensive linemen well.  In order to get off of blocks he uses his power and speed to move offensive players away from him and continue on towards the play.  He also keeps blockers away from him so that they can’t make contact, stay in contact and keep him out of the play. 

When it comes to tackling, Griffen is a solid tackler that tackles with proper form and wraps up very well.  He puts his entire body into the tackle hitting the opposing player hard most of the time.  In terms of the technique that he in playing the position, Griffen has some good technique that allows him to get the most out of his body and every move he makes on the football field.  He gets a good bit of power from his hips when he sinks his back. 

Griffen would be much better in a 4-3 defensive alignment rather than playing linebacker in a 3-4 although he could excel as an outside linebacker.  He is also versatile in where he lines up at the defensive end position and he can play left or right defensive end or play over the middle sometimes.  Some experts feel that Griffen could play better as a 4-3 defensive end and quite possibly as a pass rushing specialist because he could be put in different places to help create mismatches at certain points.  Some feel that he would be a better left defensive end than anything else. 

Some of the other minor positives that Griffen has includes great hand quickness along with strong hands and the ability to anticipate the snap count.  As a result of this he gets a good jump on the play and is in the backfield quickly.  He is also a very hard hitter and has a high ceiling with plenty of room to learn.  Griffen is also able to tell, by the actions of the offensive line, where the play is going and he can go ahead and get himself in a position to make the play. 

The knocks on Griffen include the fact that he isn’t that well developed at the position.  He doesn’t have the instincts that most of the defensive ends coming out in this year’s draft have and he is inconsistent.  He is not very productive or hard working on the field.  In being underdeveloped, he doesn’t have a lot of moves that would allow him to beat most offensive linemen and he could be dominated by top end offensive linemen. 

Other issues about Griffen that may trouble scouts include the fact that he has problems diagnosing plays and as a result will sometimes take himself out of position to make a play.  He also has issues using his hands to break free from blockers and make the play.  Griffen isn’t a dominant player either (as a result of most of the issues mentioned here) and he will need to prove himself in workouts heading up to the draft.

While Griffen does play with power he doesn’t play with as much power as perhaps he should and needs to play one hundred percent all of the time or else he won’t last long in the NFL.  His leadership both on and off the field is questionable as well and he will have to prove to NFL scouts that he would be worth the time, trouble and the pick (that he is picked at).  He is very raw and has a lot of potential but would a team be willing to spend a high draft pick on him?

Griffen didn’t play a lot at USC so his experience is limited.  Other issues that scouts may have with him include his lack of height.  At 6’3” his height for the position is suspect and he may not be able to see over taller offensive tackles.  When coming off of the edge he doesn’t quite “ramp up” his pass rush and get into the backfield in time to make a play.  He needs to develop his initial moves more so that he can get into the backfield and make plays.

In trying to set up his moves to rush the quarterback he allows time for offensive linemen to set and thus block him out of the play.  He can get some help with his moves in the NFL but keep in mind that he will be very raw and will need some time to develop. 

While at USC, Griffen earned the following honors:

2007: Sporting News Freshman All American first team, Football Writers Association Freshman All American first team, Rivals.com Freshman All American first team, Scout.com Freshman All American first team, Collegefootballnews.com Freshman All American second team, Sporting News Pac 10 Defensive Freshman of the Year and an All Pac 10 honorable mention selection. 

High School-Named Super Prep Player of the Year, Scout.com Player of the Year, Parade All American, EA Sports All American First Team, Super Prep All American, Prep Star All American, Scout.com All American, Lemming All American, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star 100, Rivals.com 100, Super Prep All Farwest, Prep Star All West, Scout.com All West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Orange County Register Fab 15 first team, Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100 and Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year.  Went to Agua Fria High in Avondale, Arizona.

Final Thoughts-It will be interesting to see exactly what scouts think of Griffen as the long process of scouting him goes on this offseason.  Griffen is a very talented player at the defensive end position but he is very raw and needs some time to properly develop in order to be effective in the NFL.  If there is a team that wants to take a chance on him and try to make him into a star player that can happen but it depends on the team and the scheme that he is drafted in.

With some good workouts, Griffen could go late in the first round but right now it looks like he is more of a middle second to early third round pick but with a great series of workouts it’s possible that Griffen could end in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Prediction: Mid first/early second round Selection