In four years with Penn State, Kevin Givens played three seasons (2016-18) and sacked opposing quarterbacks 13.5 times while totaling 83 tackles for the Nittany Lions. As he prepares to enter the NFL, he may not be a lock to land with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but his preparation has him tied to the team anyway.
At 6’1 and 285 pounds, Givens is a little undersized. Comparatively, Gerald McCoy is 6’3 and listed on Buccaneers.com at 300 pounds. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in versatility.
With Penn State, Givens lined up as an interior lineman and defensive end both standing up and with his hand on the ground. His versatility and ability to move around the defensive formation helped him carve out a nice roll in college and helped earn him early honors appearing on the Big Ten and ESPN All-Freshman Teams.
How does he connect with the Bucs though? Well, first of all, there’s Chris Godwin. Givens and the Buccaneers’ break-out candidate receiver were teammates on Penn State’s 2016 squad. Givens as a redshirt freshman and Godwin as the star Junior who would go on to finish his collegiate career with nine catches for 187-yards and two touchdowns in their classic battle against USC in the Rose Bowl.
While Godwin left to the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Givens continued on in State College. But the two crossed paths again when Givens signed on with MBK Sports Management, the same agency which represents Godwin.
Connection two comes in the form of pre-combine training and Givens’ work with the Applied Science and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. This is also where the third and final connection comes in.
While in Tampa, Givens worked out with plenty of people, but one who stands out if former Super Bowl winning Buccaneers lineman, Booger McFarland.
Being undersized and coming out of college with one year of eligibility left, Givens was focused on turning in a solid combine performance. A week McFarland identified as being critical,
“(Givens) has to prove everything at the combine, he really needs to show his movement since he probably won’t weigh but 280.”
What Givens showed - following an unofficial error in his 40-yard time - was strength and potential.
The defensive lineman was already known to have a strong lower body, and his 32-reps on the bench press ranked him third among fellow linemen.
As far as NFL fit, most agree Givens is scheme dependent. Meaning, put him in the right system and he’ll flourish. Ask him to be something he’s not, and he’ll struggle.
Like most prospects waiting for draft day to arrive, he’s not sitting on his hands waiting to find out where his next move is. According to his agent, Kaveh Akbari, “Kevin has been working on becoming a better overall pro and learning how to take care of his body at a high level. He’s been exploring all different kinds of recovery methods like sensory deprivation tanks, cryotherapy, infrared saunas, etc.”
These are going to be important parts of Givens’ success in the NFL. Players break down. Rookies, more than anyone have a reputation for running out of gas or getting overly banged up during their first round of pro football exposure.
Preparing to fight and win is one thing, preparing to do so while being able to do it all again is another.
Givens projects to be a day three prospect. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could certainly benefit from adding a player on their defensive front who had the respect of so many teammates and coaches while at Penn State for his willingness to play his role, even if it meant his teammates got the glory.
If he’s scheme dependent, then I imagine a scheme which maximizes player talents and programs which maximize reps - especially for younger and unproven players - is exactly the situation where a player like this one might find his footing.
Fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have become staunch fighters for the undervalued. Kwon Alexander was embraced as a starter after being projected as merely a special teams contributor. Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate are just two undrafted names who quickly became fan favorites among Bucs Nation. Godwin himself was being discussed as a key to the Bucs future just moments after being drafted in the third-round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Whether it’s as a late-round pick or an undrafted free-agent, Givens would have the support of the fans. If he gives them and the team the same effort and energy he did back home in Pennsylvania, then he’d quickly show them and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’s deserving of it.