Like many top recruits, Green expected to make an impact early in his college career, and he didn’t disappoint. As a freshman, he appeared in all 14 games, flashing star potential while racking up 19 stops and even scoring on a fumble recovery. As a sophomore, Green moved into a full-time starting role on the inside of the Trojans’ defense, where, among other accolades, he earned a reputation as a special teams weapon by blocking two kicks, good enough for fifth nationally.
That year, Green led USC with six sacks, adding 6.5 more tackles for loss and forcing two fumbles on his way to All-Pac-12 honorable mention status. Then he closed it out by racking up five tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble in a thrilling Rose Bowl win over Penn State.
In what would become his final season in Los Angeles, Green finished second in the conference with 10 sacks, adding 12.5 tackles for loss. His dominance as a pass rusher earned him a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team, wrapping up a career that included 117 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 16.5 sacks.
Growing up with a speech impediment, Green was shy, and reluctant to talk, but he quickly formed a bond with his college position coach, former USC defensive end and first-rounder, Kenechi Udeze, whose own mother had faced the same challenge. His success on the field, however, was never in doubt, as Green selected USC over Oregon, Miami, LSU, Notre Dame and others after being widely recognized as a top 25 defensive line prospect in the 2015 class.
Long, lean player who flashes quickness and edge abilities. Versatile player who has the ability to slide inside on passing downs. Drives legs and sinks hips when trying to anchor on the edge against running plays. Has the athleticism to beat offensive tackles and press the pocket from the outside. Can provide pressure on the passer from a variety of spots. Hand placement is improving and is giving him better results as a pass rusher. Physically gifted player who has a high ceiling in the right hands. Violent tackler and explodes into passers when he gets close. Wraps up well and tackles through the runner. Swim move is starting to develop. Very quick hands that allow him to disengage in a hurry and corral passing runners. Long arms help affect passing lanes and bat passes. Has a knack for blocking kicks, and knows how to get his hands up.
Puts his head down and loses containment often when playing as an end. Gets corralled by offensive linemen and fails to stay low when taking on double teams. Is too easily driven off the ball when playing inside. Does not demonstrate great balance and struggles to redirect or make second moves because of it. Endurance is questionable and seems to wear down later in games. For a big-bodied guy, too often looks to out-finesse his opponent rather than jar them initially and shed them. Does not fire out with a violent pop and can be prone to leaning on offensive linemen rather than eradicating them. First step is gradual, not as sudden or quick in short-areas as you’d like. Fires out high when playing inside and allows blockers to get underneath his pads. Lean body and lacks ideal girth to play inside in a 4-3. Technique is raw, needs a lot of refinement to his pass rush moves and needs to get stronger. Could need a “redshirt” year in the NFL.
Compares to: Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars — Comparing Green to present-day Jackson would obviously be a stretch, but as prospects, both will have entered the league with questions about flexibility and technique as pass rushers, and strength and pad-level as inside guys. Still, both had longer frames with room to grow as a pro, as well as the natural athletic ability to blossom into productive starters in the right system.
In our view: Green finally started to put it all together during the second half of his final season at USC, notching double-digit sacks and playing all over the line. There’s no doubting his natural talent and fluid athleticism, and it was encouraging to see him translate that into high production, but he has some work to do, especially around adding strength and refining his pass rush repertoire. Still, his ceiling is vaulted, and there’s a lot for defensive line coaches to like. He’ll likely hear his name called in the second round, by a patient team willing to be on his upside even if he needs an acclimation season.