Darion Griswold is a big, big man. Because of his size, he was used primarily as another blocker on a Red Wolves offensive line that always needs size. Which was too bad, because Gris has soft hands and the hops that made him a valuable member of John Brady's Red Wolves basketball team. The dude can ball.
Big Gris scored 10 touchdowns for the Red Wolves, which include a memorable 4-yard end zone rush against Texas State in 2015. He's a classic blocking tight end with a modern tight end's pass-catching skills, and since the end of the 2015 season, his draft stock has skyrocketed.
The Case for Drafting Darion Griswold to the NFL.
He's a Hoss
At 6"5', 255lbs, Big Gris is the Philadelphia Eagle's Brent Celek, but with an extra inch. (He skews among the tallest of the TE prospects this year.) The Red Wolves used Griswold's menacing size to protect Fredi Knighten, but the NFL can use it to grab passes over the middle or in the back of the end zone to score.
Watch how the Red Wolves utilized Darion Griswold's size against the Missouri Tigers.
He's a Two-Sport Athlete
Like Antonio Gates, Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham, Darion Griswold is a former college basket ball player who logged 343 minutes and collected 64 rebounds for John Brady's Red Wolves in 2011-2012. Oh yeah, and he also played a little QB.
@AStateRedWolves TE Darion Griswold @Big_Griz19 is a former QB and he's still got it. #SeniorBowl #FanFest pic.twitter.com/53AGEZ0nPu— Patrick Woo (@P_Woo) January 29, 2016
He's the only Sun Belt player selected to the Reese's Senior Bowl
There were many talented seniors playing for the Sun Belt in 2015 (Ronald Blair, Jamal Robinson and Nick Arbuckle among others), but it was Griswold who was called up as a late Senior Bowl roster fill-in. He immediately opened some eyes.
Congrats to Arkansas State @RedWolvesFBall TE Darion Griswold @On_My_GRIZZLY3 at Senior Bowl. pic.twitter.com/df3B4VcUY0— AStateNation (@AStateNation) January 24, 2016
Gris is grizzly strong
Puzzlingly, Griswold was not invited to the NFL Combine, but his Red Wolves Pro-Day performance proved he belonged. His 17 reps of 225 pounds would have ranked him tied for eighth among tight ends (with Jake McGee of Florida and Nick Vannett of Ohio State). His 31.5 inch vertical would have placed 8th, and his 4.78 40-yd dash* would have ranked 7th fastest.
Gris' stock keeps going up
Before the Senior Bowl, CBSSports.com had Griswold ranked in the 400-range of prospects. Today, he's the site's 13th ranked TE prospect, 280th overall, and projected to be drafted late. But other ranking services put him anywhere from the 6th best TE prospect to the 14th. Wherever Griswold ranks, NFL teams are seriously looking at him.
#Colts Spent ‘Significant Time’ with Arkansas St. TE Darion Griswold a... https://t.co/v8e7ja10PO #IndianapolisColts pic.twitter.com/lfkyD39QNe— Zesty Colts News (@zesty_colts) April 6, 2016
"Real tomato ketchup, Eddie?"
Best.Ever. MT @theScore: Arkansas State players unintentionally pay homage to Clark Griswold http://t.co/vumlHXmelU pic.twitter.com/1olcpBamGB— Lauren Farnell (@L_Farnell) September 7, 2014
The tight end has evolved into a premium position in the NFL, and teams are always looking for the next Rob Gronkowski to market. Darion Griswold certainly has the size and skills to catch the eyes of pro scouts. I'd look for Big Gris to be selected in the 6th.