#97, Everson Griffen, DE
(6033, 273, 4.54-4.69) Southern California
Notes: Born 12/22/87, in Avondale, Ariz., where he attended Agua Fria High School (the same high school from which ex-Viking and Hall-of-Famer Randall McDaniel hailed). Son of Sabrina Scott. Cousin of former Arizona State tailback Keegan Herring. His older brother, Antuan Griffen, was a football and basketball player at Glendale High School, but died in a car accident in 1999. Super Prep All-American coming out of high school. As a junior in 2005, he had 70 tackles, 6 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries, plus ran for 794 yards on 132 carries (6.1 avg.) with 10 TDs and had 168 receiving yards. He had 77 tackles, 16 sacks and a fumble recovery as a defensive end and ran for 1,251 yards on 159 carries (7.9 avg.) with 20 TDs with 6 receptions with 2 TDs as a running back in 2006.
College: In 2007, he became the first true freshman at USC to start a season opener on the defensive line since 1986. Appearing in all 13 games, he had 21 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 2 pass deflections. A pass-rush specialist and backup defensive end as a sophomore in 2008, he played in 12 games (3 starts) with 18 tackles, 6 TFL, 4.5 sacks; missed one game due to illness. He started the first 3 games in '08 before being supplanted by Green Bay Packers first-round pick Clay Matthews at the "Elephant" position. Struggled with a painful turf toe/torn toenail injury in 2009, but posted 45 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery; responded to new defensive line coach Jethro Franklin and earned second team All-Pac 10 honors. Off the field, he was suspended in the Spring of '09 due to academics. On July 4, 2009, he and teammate Jordan Campbell were cited by the Nantucket Police Department for a noise violation; no charges were filed and the two agreed to write a letter of apology. Public Policy, Management and Planning major. Griffen is also a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. After USC's 24-13 victory over Boston College in the 2009 Emerald Bowl, Griffen announced he would forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2010 NFL Draft. Here's a look at Griffen in action at USC, and another highlight reel vs. Oregon.
Pre-Draft: Measured 6'-3 3/8", 273 pounds...did 32 reps at 225 pounds...1.59 10-yard dash...2.68 20-yard dash...4.54-4.69 40-yard dash...34-inch vertical jump...9'-7" broad jump...4.36 20-yard shuttle...7.12 three-cone drill...32 5/8-inch arms...10-inch hands. Draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. projected the Jets taking him before the Vikings' pick in the first round.
Pro: A fourth-round pick (No. 100 overall) by the Vikings in the 2010 NFL Draft; the second pick in the fourth round.
Positives: Powerful player who can rush the passer and pressure the quarterback. Has a strong upper body (32 reps) and the framer to carry even more bulk. Shows quick, strong hands and flashes intensity. Developing some moves and spin techniques. Very nimble and athletic for his size and possesses the strength to hold up at the point of attack against the run. Can be explosive off the ball, with good first-step quickness, power and acceleration to the quarterback. Has the athleticism and movement skills to make plays in pursuit. Strong tackler.
Negatives: Did not show a consistent motor in college. Lacks down-in, down-out intensity on every play. Needs to develop overall pass rush technique and variety. Free lances from the scheme at times and doesn't always play with sound instincts or discipline. Questionable maturity and work ethic.
Summary: Griffen has all the tools to develop into a quality, every-down defensive end in the Vikings 4-3 scheme, with the ability to anchor against the run and provide a consistent pass rush off the edge. But the key will be his ability to stay healthy, dedicate himself and keep his motor revved at all times. Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has a very good track record of getting the most out young players such as Griffen, so the situation couldn't be better. Unless he gets too caught up in the trappings of the NFL lifestyle, Griffen provides nice insurance for the future with Ray Edwards eventually able to hit the free agent market.
What they said:
"When they called me it was a surprise. I didn't talk to them at all. They picked me for a reason because they know what I can do on the field and I'm going to show them. Once it's time to go to minicamps and OTAs for rookies, I'm just going to go in there and do everything to the fullest. Whatever they want me to do. If they want me to come in on third down and be that pass rusher, whatever they want me to do I'm ready to do. I'm going to adapt, I'm going to learn, I'm going to listen and compete." -Griffen, in teleconference with media following the draft
"Has the ability to be great but has lacked consistency and fire. His athleticism is most obvious when he is let loose as a pure pass rusher. A constant challenge to block because he has an array of athletic moves and great closing speed. However, he doesn't seem to finish the job as often as he should because he is so focused on getting upfield that he loses track of the football, making him vulnerable on runs to his inside. Scouts wonder if he will stay motivated after depositing a big signing bonus check." -Frank Cooney, USA TODAY/NFL Draft Scout
"You hear it all the time but he was the highest-rated player on our board to be honest with you and he was just a player that was too hard to pass. He's got all the athletic traits that we are looking for in a defensive lineman. He can play on both sides, he could probably also even go inside in nickel, he can run, he's athletic. The consistency level has to improve somewhat in his play. There were games when he was a first-round pick and games when he would disappear. He's got great value where we took him and I think he will blossom as a pro. I think he's got great tutelage with [defensive line coach] Karl [Dunbar] and our defensive line coaches and him being surrounded by the defensive linemen that we already have on our roster I think will make him a better player as well." -Scott Studwell, Vikings Director of College Scouting
"Quickness is my strength. I can knock away offensive linemen's hands before they put them on me. When it comes to making sacks, I don't know how to explain it, because it's the greatest feeling in the world. When you're coming off the edge and the quarterback doesn't see you, it's like a free shot to heaven." -Griffen
"The Vikings needed to add one more defensive end for depth purposes, so the rookie will fill that need. Griffen is a nice value, but there's a reason why he dropped. He had an inconsistent motor." -Adam Caplan, Scout.com
"Griffen was considered an underachiever during his career at USC, so it's no shock that this first-round talent fell to the third day. He has great size, power and explosion when rushing off the edge and has the chance to be a dynamic pass-rusher if he puts it all together. That said, his inconsistent motor may prevent him from ever reaching his full potential." -ESPN Draft Tracker
"First-round talent with questions about his attitude and work ethic." -Ted Miller, ESPN
"The Vikings got a top-25 talent in the fourth round with the addition of Everson Griffen. The energetic pass rusher has excellent initial quickness, and his ability to pressure the pocket will undoubtedly earn him minutes in a deep Vikings' rotation. This is an excellent value pick for the team, regardless of his off-field issues." -NFL.com
"Minnesota had to do this. It's going to be tough to re-sign Ray Edwards, so Everson Griffen, a first-round prospect according to some scouts, provides insurance. (Pick Grade: A)" -WalterFootball.com
Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow VU on Twitter and discuss this and other topics on our message boards.