2010 Vikings draft: Griffen the only impact

Five years later, the Vikings’ 2010 draft features only one real quality starter and a bunch of others that either haven’t made it in the NFL or are mostly backup quality. We review the careers to date for the 2010 selections.

Chris Cook: Second round, No. 34 overall
Before his time in Minnesota, Cook played for the Virginia Cavaliers. He decided to stay and play his senior year, and his draft stock greatly benefited as he recorded his best season with 40 tackles, four interceptions – one returned for a touchdown – and six pass deflections. At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds Cook has great size, which made him ideal to cover bigger receivers. However, he lacked top-end speed and it was expected that he would not be able to play on an island and would often need safety help over the top.

When the Vikings selected Cook with their first pick in the 2010 draft, they likely expected him to be their solution for tall physicals receivers across the NFL. Cook would show flashes of what he could be, but unfortunately was never able to put it all together. A part of the reason could be because he didn’t fit into Leslie Frazier’s defensive scheme and he struggled with injuries through the course of his career as well as one legal issue.

After playing on the Vikings for four years, Cook left the team that drafted him and headed west. He signed with the San Francisco 49ers with a one-year contract on Mar. 14, 2014, which means this offseason he will once again be a free agent. During the course of his career, Cook has recorded 129 tackles, one sack and 14 passes defensed.

Toby Gerhart: Second round, No. 51 overall
While in both high school and college, Gerhart was a star two-sport athlete. He played both baseball and football, and while he performed well in both it was ultimately football that gave Gerhart the big payday. In his senior season in college, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy race behind Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Coming out of college, Gerhart was considered to be a hard, tough runner and a player with better speed than would be expected for his size but lacked the top-end speed that most elite runners possess.

When the Vikings drafted him they were likely expecting him to serve as a backup to Adrian Peterson, but he was forced to start more than a few games because of injuries suffered by the All-Pro. Gerhart was always a serviceable backup for the Vikings, and once he became a free agent during the 2014 offseason it was known that they would not be able to re-sign him.

Sure enough, Gerhart signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, which included $4.5 million guaranteed. He didn’t live up to that contract, as he recorded 101 attempts for only 326 yards and two touchdowns. Next season there is a chance that Gerhart will not even be the Jaguars’ starting running back after the emergence of Denard Robinson.

Everson Griffen: Fourth round, No. 100 overall
Since Griffen’s freshman year at USC it was clear that he had the potential to be a special player. In the Trojans’ first game of the 2007 season, he was starting as a true freshman. He was the first true freshman to start opening day for the Trojans in the past 21 seasons. Coming out of college, Griffen had good hands, speed, and power, but he was thought to be only an average height for the position and scouts believed he lacked intensity at times.

With players such as Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Ray Edwards already on the Vikings roster, Griffen was primarily used as a rotational player during the first four years of his career. Even in that role, though, it was clear that he had the talent to succeed in the NFL. Then in 2014 he was given the opportunity to be the Vikings’ starting right defensive end when the team re-signed him and let Allen walk. They signed Griffen to a five-year, $42.5 million contract, including $20 million guaranteed. He rewarded them by recording 55 tackles, 12 sacks, one forced fumble, three passes defended and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.

Chris DeGeare: Fifth round, No. 161 overall
DeGeare played at Wake Forest after being a top interior offensive line recruit in high school. In the predraft process, it was said that his greatest strength was his large size and his ability to play behind his pads. However, that also led to him relying on his size more than he should have. He also struggled with academics and was forced to miss the 2008 season due to an academic suspension.

DeGeare never amounted to much in the NFL. He was active for eight games during his rookie season but has not been active for a game since then. In 2012, the Vikings cut him when they were forced to condense their roster to 53, and since then DeGeare bounced around between different practice squads, spending time with the Tennessee Titans, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. He is currently a free agent.

Nate Triplett: Fifth round, No. 167 overall
Triplett spent his college days playing at the University of Minnesota after growing up in Delano, Minn. Originally a walk-on, Triplett was finally given the chance to be a full-time starter in college his senior year and he took full advantage, recording over 100 tackles. Coming out of college he was considered to be a versatile player with more athleticism than expected, but he did not excel in any area of his game.

After playing in Minnesota at both the high school and college level, it must have been a dream come true for Triplett when the Vikings drafted him. That dream didn’t last very long, though, as the Vikings parted ways with him during preseason cuts his rookie year. After being cut, he was placed on the San Diego Chargers’ practice squad, then claimed to the active roster of the Indianapolis Colts and was waived in 2011. He then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Jul. 29, 2012 but then left the team on Aug. 2.

Joe Webb: Sixth round, No. 199 overall
Webb played at the University of Alabama-Birmingham as both a wide receiver and quarterback. In the predraft process Webb was listed as being the ideal size for a quarterback with good arm strength and surprising accuracy at times. However, he needed to work on his decision-making and reading defenses, and he was considered to be a project player.

In his first three seasons in the NFL, Webb’s role was primarily as a backup quarterback, but was thrust into the starting role on occasion due to injuries. Then in 2013 his role on the team changed when he was made into a wide receiver. But during the 2014 offseason Webb was a free agent and signed with the Carolina Panthers and was listed as their third-string quarterback, but still spent time as a wide receiver as well.

Mickey Shuler: Seventh round, No. 214 overall
Shuler spent his college years at Penn State where his father, Mickey Shuler Sr., was a standout tight end. He was considered to be one of the better blockers in his tight end class heading into the draft, but he was slow out of his stance, did not excel catching the ball and was a one-speed runner who needed experience running routes.

When the 2010 preseason was finished, Shuler still had a spot on the Vikings’ 53-man roster but was cut and placed on waivers on Sept. 22. He was then claimed by the Miami Dolphins and put on their active roster. The Dolphins released him in 2011 and he was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals but failed his physical. After that, he bounced around the NFL, being a part of six more teams, including another stint with the Vikings. He is currently a member of the Jaguars’ practice squad.

Ryan D’Imperio: Seventh round, No. 237 overall
D’Imperio played for the Rutgers Scarlett Knights for three seasons. However, he missed the 2007 season after breaking his leg. In the predraft process, he was considered to be a good football player who was both smart and tough but had stiff hips and would often get caught up in traffic.

Even though he played linebacker in college, then-Vikings head coach Brad Childress thought D’Imperio would be better suited to play fullback. He was part of the Vikings practice squad for 2010 and 2011, and was activated to the active roster in 2011 before being released in 2012. He was then signed by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 and released later that year. In 2013, he signed with the New York Giants but announced his retirement from the NFL later that summer.

Overall Analysis
The 2010 draft class for the Vikings was an underwhelming one, and would be considered a lot worse if not for the recent success of Everson Griffen. Apart from Griffen, there were players in this draft class who started in games but no real playmakers. The Vikings had six picks in rounds five or later, and Griffen was really the only one of them to make an impact in the NFL – although Webb did show flashes in a couple games. Even before the 2014 season, Griffen didn’t make too much of an impact in the NFL because he was forced to be a rotational player playing behind Allen on the defensive line.

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