"Where am I gonna hide the body?"
Welcome back everyone! This piece is the second in a series of moves that Odin's Eye would make if I were the Triangle of Authority. Even looking up the pictures for this post, I got excited. Dude is a physical freak. Everson Griffen stands 6'3, 280 pounds and runs a 4.66 40-yard dash. According to his NFL combine report, he is especially powerful in confined space and his agility and speed in space are better than most DEs. His agility and speed stems back to his days as a high school running back. As any NFL draft analyst worth their salt would tell you, you can't get caught up in measureables, as some fans may with a player like Joe Webb. We aren't the Raiders here, setting our depth charts by 40 times. However, I've watched the Vikings nearly every play of every game this year, and this guy is an animal. He plays mostly on special teams and rotates in on defense sparingly as a linebacker or defensive lineman. He has accumulated 21 tackles (15 solo, 3 for loss), 4 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in that time on defense, as well as 9 tackles and a forced fumble on special teams.
Despite trying not to fall in love with the sheer athleticism that Griffen has displayed in his time on the field, it's hard not to. He is a gunner on special teams, and is probably one of the biggest gunners in the entire NFL. He can really move. Last week, on a screen pass to Darren Sproles, he caught up to Sproles from behind before Sproles was knocked out of bounds by Jamarca Stanford. How many 280 pound men have you seen catch a guy with Sproles' speed, from behind no less? Don't act like you're not impressed. He also scooped up a botched snap by the Saints in stride and would have scored if not for the Breesus' all out effort to stop him. If you skip to the 0:40 second point in this highlight, those plays are back-to-back. I just re-watched the play where he catches up to Sproles from behind, and I recommend you do too. He is on the opposite side of the field when Sproles catches that ball. Holy sh*t. He also blew by the Saints' left tackle on that fumble recovery.
Note: I had to watch the discount double-check commercial to get to those highlights. Man do I hate that ad and everything it represents. For those keeping score at home, that's two Saints-Vikings searches in a row that have resulted in a kick to the plums. RODGERS!?! DISCOUNT DOUBLE-TWAP!!
Not only has he wowed me with his athleticism, but unlike Joe Webb, Griffen has made the most of his opportunities. His 4 sacks this season are good for 3rd on the team behind Brian Robison (6.0) and some other guy with a mullet or something. I'm no mathemetician, but I'm willing to bet if you projected Griffen's statistics over how many snaps a starter like Robison has gotten (I tried, but could not find how many defensive snaps Griffen has been on the field for this season), they would look pretty, prettttty, pretttttty, prettttttay good.
Going forward, I expect big things from Griffen. His draft stock dropped a 2 years ago because of concerns about his work ethic, and he was seen as a high-risk, high-reward pick. As long as he keeps his name out of the police reports, I believe this man will replace Brian Robison or one of our linebackers by next year. I mean, for Pete's sake, isn't it about time the Vikings got a pick right that wasn't in the first round? Think of the damage this 280 pound beast can do to an offensive player when he can get the type of short-range momentum that comes with a 4.6 40. He has the potential to be an absolute sledgehammer on the field. His abilities as far as pass coverage and hands go, are still mostly unknown. The good news about that is if he struggles in those areas, he is originally a defensive end. Brian Robison signed a 3-year, 14.1 million dollar deal this offseason, which makes him relatively cheap and a leading candidate to be replaced after an underwhelming first season as a starter this year. Chad Greenway signed a big deal, so don't expect to see Griffen replacing him. Erin Henderson has played decently enough this season to garner a starting spot next year. My opinion about his brother E.J. has been made here before, but to refresh you all, I feel he has lost a step and is one of the players that needs to go in order to improve our NFL-record breaking (and not in a good way) defense.
I don't see the Mike position as a good fit for Griffen if he were to play in the linebacking corps, so Greenway or Erin Henderson would have to convert to the middle to make room for Griffen. Otherwise, he may end up replacing Brian Robison, who has really dropped off the radar after a solid start to the 2011 season. Wherever Griffen ends up being plugged in, it's this blogger's strong opinion that he needs to be utilized more frequently in any way possible. There's really nowhere to go but up for this defense and Everson Griffen himself. One might say the sky is the limit for him.