Griffen motivated, ready to compete

Defensive end Everson Griffen was expected by many people to be a first-round draft pick, including his own opinion of where he would go. He had to wait two days before being selected by the Vikings, but said he is motivated by the long draft wait and will set out to play like the first-round pick he thought he should be. His comments are inside.

The exhaustive draft process that players go through prior to having their names called on draft day is a grueling three-month ordeal that has a light at the end of the tunnel. Players get to prove their mettle and, when the time comes, their name is announced in New York.

Most players have a pretty good idea where they will be drafted. Agents and advisors will tell them that they might be a third- or fourth-round pick or that they should be prepared to wait a long time. That wasn't the case with USC defensive end Everson Griffen.

Expected by many to be a first-round draft pick on Thursday, when that came and went, Griffen was convinced he would be drafted on Friday. As the picks rolled off the board, including 10 players that are viewed as defensive ends or end/linebacker hybrids, Griffen's name remained uncalled and his frustration mounted.

"The last couple days have been very stressful," Griffen said. "I really expected to go in the first round – the first or second – but it didn't happen that way. Everything happens for a reason, and Minnesota got me and I'm just happy. I couldn't be (happier). My family's happy. I hope the fans are happy in Minnesota. I just want to say thank you to the owners, the Wilf family, for helping me and picking me and wanting me on their team and part of their organization."

Griffen's wait to get drafted became too much for him to handle as Thursday turned into Friday and Friday turned into Friday night – so much so that he bailed out on watching the network coverage of the draft simply out of nerves and frustration.

"I watched some of the second round yesterday, then I just couldn't watch it any more," Griffen said. "Then, I just waited for that phone call. That was the only thing I could do, wait for that phone call. It came around this morning, and I'm pumped and happy and excited to get out to Minnesota on Thursday. I'm going to make every opportunity count."

Although it came much later than he anticipated, Griffen said that the emotions came out of him and his family that, although it came much later than any of them anticipated, his NFL dream was finally realized. When asked what emotions went through his mind, Griffen said there was a flood of them – from joy to resolve.

"Relief, crying, just happy that I got my foot in the door," Griffen said. Now, it's what I do with it, and I'm going to take it and I'm going to run with it and I'm going to show them what I can do. That's it, I'm going to show them what I can do."

Griffen said he believes the Vikings are an ideal team for him to land with, saying that the veteran leadership on the defensive line can only help to maximize his talent and lessen his NFL learning curve.

"I know that they have the best D-line in the NFL - Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams and Ray Edwards," Griffen said. "I'm just happy to be a part of them. I just want them to take me under their wing and show me the ropes around there."

One of the predraft criticisms of Griffen, especially as a senior, was the perception that he gives an inconsistent effort from one game to the next and, while looking overpowering at times, at other times he would seemingly disappear for long stretches of time without being an impact player. While not justifying his up-and-down play, Griffen said he played through a turf toe injury that would flare up – coinciding with his drop in production. He believes it was a factor in his stock drop, but refused to use the injury as a crutch.

"I'm not a big guy to make excuses, but I played with turf toe half of the year," Griffen said. "It was bad turf toe. Two months (later), it's finally feeling better. I had turf toe, but you just got to want to play at that level and that's what I want to do. When I had the chance to show them that I can play at high speed, I play at high speeds all times. Coming off this injury affected me for half of the year. But now I'm feeling 100 percent. I'm ready to go. No new injuries. I'm just out here, working hard. I'm about to go back to Cali and start working hard, like I've been doing. I'm ready to go to Minnesota."

Griffen's role on the team is yet to be defined, but said he's prepared to do anything to work his way onto the field, whether it's to step in as a starter if an injury occurs or playing a limited role as part of a line rotation. He isn't sure what the Vikings have in mind for him, but said he willing embrace whatever role he is given.

"(I'll do) whatever they want me to do," Griffen said. "If they want me to come in on third down and be that pass rusher, (I will). Whatever they want me to do, I'm ready to do. I'm going to go in there and just learn. I'm going to adapt, I'm going to learn, I'm going to listen, and just compete. That's what I'm going to do every day, compete and show the other D-linemen that I'm there to win games and help out in any situation."

Although his entrance to the NFL came two days later than he had hoped, Griffen said that he can't change the past. All he can do is control his own future.

"Everything happens for a reason," Griffen said. "I'm just excited that the organization looked at me as a great player and they know I can play. They know I can contribute to the team. I'm just going to go in there with a positive mind set and just learn, learn from the best and contribute right off the top."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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