Keeping with the apparent linemen from Los Angeles theme here at Buc'Em, next up on Prospecting the Draft is DE Everson Griffen. Although DE is not a position that fans and media alike are talking about as much as wide receiver and defensive tackle, it's one which merits serious consideration at the top of the draft. Stylez G. White, who is arguably the most talented end on the roster, would be a situational player on the majority of teams in the league. Tim Crowder showed some potential on the road against Atlanta last year, but has been far too up and down in Denver and Tampa to be a reliable option. The Bucs are hoping that Griffen's former teammate, Kyle Moore, can create some pressure off the edge now that he's dropped 16 pounds but that's far from guaranteed. Jimmy Wilkerson is an unrestricted free agent coming off of an ACL tear who's looking to offer his services to the highest bidder.
What this team could use is an aggressive, driven, playmaking threat off the end. Someone who plays pissed and looks to take it out on the ballcarrier in the backfield. Someone who can force some errant throws and grease the wheels of the rusted over Tampa 2 Turnover machine. Could Griffen, who's been graded out as a first-round talent by some teams, be that man? There's a lot to like about him. He has scouts of many teams talking, as he has the size to fit into a 4-3 DE at 6-4, 275-ish pounds and the speed and athleticism to become an effective OLB in a 3-4 scheme.......although I think he ultimately falls into a 4-3 DE position a little bit better.
Here's a look at his career stats:
Check out some video highlights of Griffen here.
What I like best about Griffen is his combination of size and quickness. Generally speaking, in your typical 4-3 scheme, he's big enough to lower his pads and hold his ground at a minimum due to his strong base. Add his quickness and overall athleticism, and you've got a guy who might be able play a Tampa 2 defensive end position effectively. As he can hold the point of attack well and keep his blocker at bay with his long arms, he's able to slide over off his blocker and get into the gap between guard and tackle on inside running plays and outside on off-tackle runs and pitches. Once he gets there, he is a sound tackler who can wrap up and bring down the strongest of ballcarriers. He could easily make an impact in the running game from a left defensive end position.
I say the left defensive end position because he doesn't have the type of explosive first step up the field that you'd like to see from an upper echelon end. He also doesn't show particularly good technique in using his hands to get past a blocker. As such, he might have a little bit of trouble getting the edge on agile NFL left tackles. However, he's got the lower body strength and strong upper body to work up under his blocker and force him backwards on a consistent basis.
Overall, he looks to be pretty darn solid in the run game and could probably be coached into improving his pass-rushing technique. He's been rated a first-round talent by several teams and could go anywhere from Tennessee at 16 to the 2nd round. There have been some questions about his motivation, as he performed poorly and in a seemingly uninspired passion at USC until he had a big year in 2009.
Are you guys interested in Griffen if he's there in the 2nd round?