Welcome To The Big Show: Everson Griffen

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  Over the next few weeks, we will be unveiling some in-depth articles that allow you to better know the newest Vikings draft class and undrafted free agents.  These articles are not intended to be “fluff pieces” like you will find elsewhere, but rather a comprehensive look at each of them as a person and as a football player.  Click the links to read about Chris Cook and Toby Gerhart.]

Prior to the 2010 NFL draft, I heard some rumblings about a last minute free fall in the draft stock of USC defensive end Everson Griffen.  So I moved him down six spots (from #16 to #21) in the first round of my mock draft.

To just about everyone’s surprise, Griffen didn’t get drafted in the first round… or the second… or even the third.  Instead, the Vikings inadvertently landed a player of first round potential in the fourth round because they swapped fourth round picks in a trade with the Detroit Lions a full two days before hand.  This was perhaps one of the luckiest moments in the Vikings draft, and also one of the smartest, as it may be the only point where they actually did as they preach by taking the best player available.

Griffen is no stranger to attention, as his career Agua Fria High School instantly placed him into the elite athlete category.  In high school, he notched 77 tackles, 16 sacks, and a fumble recovery on the defensive side in addition to rushing for 1,251 yards (7.9 YPC) and 20 touchdowns in a year in which he won just about every award available to high school students.  He was the consensus high school “Player of the Year” and was one of the most coveted recruits out there.

Like many top recruits, Griffen chose USC after receiving offers from many other top schools.  He was majoring in Public Policy, Management and Planning.  He started two games his first year, which made him the first true freshman Trojan to start on the defensive line since 1986.  He played in all 12 games and was an instant stand out as he finished with 21 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, a recovery, and two batted passes.

The next year, he again played in all 12 games, starting three.  On the second ranked defense, Griffen contributed 18 tackles (6 for a loss) and 4.5 sacks.

He became a full time starter in the 2009 season and played the entire season.  He managed 45 tackles (8.5 for a loss), seven sacks, a forced fumble, a recovery, and one batted pass.

Defense Stats
2007 USC 21 15 6   5          
2008 USC 18 11 7   4          
2009 USC 43 20 23   7          


Griffen was probably so used to the lime light that he was shocked when he didn’t hear his name called on the first or the second day of the NFL Draft.  Some criticism of his play being “streaky” and also his enjoyment of “college life” are the primary reasons cited thus far for his draft day slide.  He was probably regretting his decision to leave school as a junior when his name was not called in the first three rounds.

He may find himself in a better situation than he thought he would, however.  With the Vikings, he will join a crowded defensive line and for perhaps the first time in his career there will be very little pressure for him to win a starting spot and perform at an elite level right from the get-go.  He has the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business in Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, and Ray Edwards.  With that being said, he also has a chance to shine and earn a starting spot within a year or two as he and Jared Allen are the only Vikings defensive ends that are not in the final year of their contract.  If I were a betting man, I would say that Griffen will be in direct competition with Brian Robison for the starting spot at left end by 2011.

As far as character goes, I am not too concerned.  The only arrest I could dig up was a “disturbing the peace” complaint when he was throwing a party that got a little too loud and out of control.  Charges were dropped and a college student having a college party is not something worth holding against someone for too long… or else half the people in our country would be in trouble.

More importantly, I think Griffen’s tendency to disappear for long stretches of time on the field is something he will need to work at.  With the level of competition he is facing, in addition to a humbling draft experience, one has to think Griffen will get motivated very quickly or not make it in the NFL at all.

At 6’ 3” and 268 lbs., Griffen has shown some rare athleticism during workouts.  At the combine he ran the second fastest forty out of defensive linemen with a 4.64, and was even able to improve that to a 4.59 at his pro day.  He also benched 32 reps which tied him for sixth among D-Linemen attending the Combine.

Despite his physical gifts, Griffen may be a “boom or bust” player in the NFL as his film shows a lack of production and perhaps a “soft” physicality that will not fly in the NFL.  For the Vikings sake, let’s hope he ends up bringing the “boom.”

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2 Responses to “Welcome To The Big Show: Everson Griffen”

  1. WinnipegViking says:

    This guy is a beast. Let’s just hope he can run his engine all 60 minutes a game and give er on every single time he’s in during a snap. He was a steal where we drafted him.

  2. Purple Charlie says:

    Ya know what they say, Ya lay down with the Dogs you get up with the fleas!!!

    I have a feeling Jared,Pat,Kevin and others will rub off on Everson… Hope he has a little chip on his shoulder going in the 4th round.

    Training camp is next…

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