As soon as Kevin Givens set foot on the field in 2016, it was obvious that he could flat-out play. He had garnered buzz for his work on the scout team and in the weight room, and then proceeded to be a disruptive force right off the bat as a redshirt freshman in 2016. Despite limited snaps, Givens contributed 27 tackles with five sacks and 7.5 TFLs- pretty phenomenal out of the defensive tackle spot, and even more so for a reserve.
Givens again came off the bench in 2017 at defensive tackle, but did fill in at defensive end for part of the season. While his speed proved to be an asset in the interior, he didn’t seem to have the top-flight burst to make him as disruptive coming off the edge. His numbers dipped slightly by playing out of position, despite seeing more time on the field. He still managed 23 tackles with 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Givens finally stepped into a much-deserved starting role as a redshirt junior in 2018. He became one of the primary leaders for a young defensive line group that would go on to completely obliterate expectations.
As a full-time starter, Givens posed a difficult decision for opposing offensive coordinators. Either focus on slowing/stopping Givens and let the likes of Robert Windsor, Shareef Miller and Yetur Gross-Matos run wild. Or put a single blocker on Givens and deal with him in the backfield all afternoon. There were some weeks when you would hardly hear Givens’ name all day, while his linemates racked up the stats. Then there were the weeks where he was everywhere and seemed to factor in to every play in some capacity. Despite the extra attention, Givens had his best season, with 33 tackles, 10.5 TFLs and five sacks.
After four years at Penn State and a degree in hand, Givens decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft.
What You’re Getting
Givens’ primary strengths are his quick burst and pure strength. When combined, it gave offensive lineman fits as he could easily burst through the line and disrupt the play. He also plays with consistency, making an impact on just about every play in one way or another. As noted above, his presence always made those around him better as his ability to blow up plays forced extra attention upon himself and freed up others along the defensive line.
Despite his productivity in the Big Ten, where he constantly faced off and got the better of future NFL linemen, Givens’ draft stock has been hindered by his status as a “tweener” - too small for defensive tackle, and without the blazing speed to become an edge rusher at the next level. If he was 6-5, 320 lbs. his projected draft status would be much, much higher based on his performance on the field. He could catch on as a 3-4 end, but regardless, has proven himself to be a valuable defensive lineman and will make the most of his chance as either a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.