Griffen would be big presence at OLB

Each week leading up to April’s NFL Draft, New England native Steve Muench of ESPN’s Scouts Inc., will identify a player he thinks could be a good fit for the Patriots. This week, it is Southern California defensive end/outside linebacker Everson Griffen:

“He’s 6-foot-3, 273 pounds and his strength is getting after the quarterback. He’s an excellent power-to-speed rusher, which means he uses his explosive first step to get under the pads of offensive tackles and knock them off balance. Once he 's free of the block, he closes very quickly.

“I also like the way he bends back inside. That’s something Dwight Freeney excels at, and we’ve talked about it before, edge rushers actually make themselves faster by cutting down the angle to the quarterback. He’s not a one-dimensional pass rusher either. If he moves to outside linebacker, I think he could do a good job setting the edge because he’s very strong. He also tackles well in the open field, so he’s a sound run defender as well as an explosive pass rusher.

“The biggest concerns with him are instincts and motor. He will have to improve in both of those areas, but that said I think the Patriots are a perfect fit for him. They have the leadership in place to bring a player like him along. I’m thinking of a player like Jerod Mayo at linebacker, who would help him in terms of his reads. There are some minor off-field concerns with Griffen, but I don’t think they are huge issues.

“He looks like he’ll be a late first-round pick. He ran a 4.66 in the 40 and when you consider the average time last year for defensive ends was the low 4.9s, it shows you that he runs very, very well for his size.”