Hometown: Strathroy, Ont.
Statistics: 26 games
Being from the small hockey town of Strathroy, Ont., Dylan Giffen didn’t have the opportunity to play football until he reached high school. He took to the sport naturally once he reached grade nine due in part to his gigantic frame.
“I’ve always been really big,” said Giffen. “In grade nine I was about the same size as I am now. Maybe an inch or two shorter, but I haven’t really grown since I was 14. I was pretty much done growing by the end of junior high school.”
Giffen played one year at defensive tackle before moving to the offensive line in grade 10. He continued to play on both sides of the ball intermittently, which is understandable given his sheer size. He also used to catch an occasional pass as a tight end, which must have been terrifying for members of the opposing defence.
Choosing to attend Western University was an easy choice for Giffen with campus located just 35 kilometres from his home.
“I looked at other schools, but I didn’t have to look far to find the perfect program. Western has such a rich history and winning culture. Coach [Greg] Marshall has developed such a dominant program and I wanted to be a part of it. It was a perfect situation,” said Giffen.
The Mustangs’ run-oriented attack suited Giffen perfectly, blocking for a number of excellent ball carriers including Alex Taylor and Cedric Joseph.
“I love run blocking. Even if you look at how I pass protect, I like locking on. I don’t dance with guys, I like locking them out and shutting them down early. I like throwing my huge frame against someone else and physically imposing my will against them. Run blocking is the best. Any o-lineman who tells you otherwise is a liar.”
Giffen spent the last two seasons protecting Chris Merchant’s blindside at left tackle. He is expected to move inside to guard at the professional level, a spot that will limit the amount of ground he needs to cover. Giffen lacks foot quickness, but makes up for it with a massive frame.
A hatred of losing is what motivates the blocker and is something he’ll look to bring to the professional level.
“I grew up in a small town, so high school football wasn’t the main priority. We lost a few football games. Coming to Western, I knew I didn’t want to lose ever again and we had a pretty good record over the years. I want to try to keep that going — I’m very competitive, I do not want to lose. Even if it’s just an individual rep, if someone beats me I will find a way to win the next one.”
Giffen has drawn comparisons to Stampeders’ left guard Shane Bergman, a sixth-round pick in the 2013 CFL draft. They are similar in stature, attended the same school, and lacked elite mobility. That didn’t prevent Bergman from becoming a CFL all-star and it shouldn’t affect Giffen’s stock much, either.
Giffen attended the College Gridiron Showcase in January and impressed scouts with his powerful frame. He’s not a plug-and-play prospect, but Giffen could develop into a solid contributor along the interior of the offensive line at the CFL level.
Anonymous quote from a CFL scout: “That guy is just big as sh**. He doesn’t have the feet to play tackle in our league, but good luck trying to get by him at guard.”
Projected round: 2-3