The Vikings received this pick after their trade with the Detroit Lions that allowed the Lions to move back into the first round on Thursday night, and they used it to select defensive end Everson Griffen from the University of Southern California.
Prior to the draft, there were many places that had a first-round grade, and this is certainly a case of the Vikings taking the best player available, because that's what Griffen clearly was. Here's what our friends at Mocking the Draft have to say about the newest member of the Minnesota Vikings:
Pass Rush/Closing Ability/Moves and Counter Moves: Slow to develop off the edge. Tries to set up moves but instead creates more time for the blocker to set up. Does not burn off the edge. Needs to refine rip and swim moves.
Pursuit/Lateral Movement and Agility: Moves very well for a 280 pounder. Very nimble in the teenches when he needs to be. Moves down the line on runs away from him low and with force. Can avoid the cut blocks by using his agile hips and light feet.
Quickness/Explosion: Can move quickly in short space. Explodes out of his stance and can get in to the blocker right away, gaining control of the engagement. Lacks the top tier explosion off the edge
Run Defend/Recognition: Strong presence against the run. Very hard to move and sheds blocks well. Can get from one end of the tackle box to the other before the back reaches the line of scrimmage. Reads the motion of the offensive line and well and gets himself in to position consistently.
Size/Length/Hand Size: Has the ideal body for the 4-3 defensive end. Long, thick arms that hold a lot of power. A strong 280 pound frame that is put together nicely.
Strength/Ability to Shed Blocks: Constantly the strongest player in the trenches when it comes to the upper body. Delivers a blow with his intitial punch. Lacks the base power to hold ground against a road grading offensive tackle. Can get off a block with his combination of power and quickness. Maintains separation and prevents blocker from locking on.
Tackling: Powerful tackler that wraps up well. Uses his entire body to make a tackle, making it full of force and power. Sound technique.
Technique/Hand Use/Leverage: Plays low with a flat back which enables him to get full power from his hips. Technique as an edge rusher is inconsistent, uses too much bull rush and not enough moves. Has outstanding hands that are strong and powerful.
Versatility: Plays left and right, inside and outside, in a stance and standing up. His best role may be at left defensive end in a 4-3 but he can be moved around in certain packages to create mismatches. Has a nice blend of power and speed, thus making him an option along the line.
Final Word: Griffen is another Trojan that never reached his full potential that many thought was there when he entered the college game. With that said, Griffin had his best year in 2009 and he may be blooming at the right time. He is the perfect fit for a team searching for a left defensive end that can play the run but surprise with his ability to get to the passer from any angle. Defensive Coordinators that like to get creative will like Griffen the most. He has been involved in a couple of off the field skirmishes but no charges have been filed. He appears to have dedicated himself to the game after a couple of years of trying to let his talent get him by. He could end up in the first round if he works out well but production wise, he is a second round caliber defensive end.
Incidentally, MtD had Griffen as the #2 defensive end prospect in the entire draft, behind only Derrick Morgan, who went at #16 overall to the Tennessee Titans. Talent-wise, this pick appears to be a huge steal for the Vikings, and may. . .more than anything else. . .be insurance against a possible Ray Edwards departure in the near future.