With all of the previews and things of that nature that are flying around at this point, it would have been pretty easy to miss this one. Heck, I probably would have missed it myself if Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune hadn't put it on his blog, so kudos to him for that.
Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback has now become its own sub-site of sorts at SI.com. They put together their NFL preview for everyone's reading pleasure, and alongside the predictions came a couple of candidates for "breakout player of the year."
On offense, they went with Green Bay Packers' wide receiver Randall Cobb (not Eddie Lacy, as I originally thought I saw on the page). But on defense, they actually went with a name that made sense. . .Minnesota Vikings' defensive lineman Everson Griffen.
The fourth-year Vikings defensive end has sensational speed and pliable body control. He can play anywhere along the defensive front. If afforded enough playing time, Griffen will have a 15-sack season.
We've all seen what Griffen can do when afforded the opportunity. He closed the regular season last year with a three-sack performance against the Packers in the game that got the Vikings to the post-season. And, like fellow defensive ends Brian Robison and Jared Allen, he's in the final year of his contract with the team, so he's going to have even more to prove.
Frankly, out of Allen, Griffen, and Robison, the only one that I think is a lead-pipe lock to be back in Minnesota next year is Griffen. He's obviously the youngest of the three (both Allen and Robison are north of 30), he's the most versatile, and while he might command more money than Robison (potentially), his price tag likely won't be anywhere near what Allen is going to be looking for next season. With Kevin Williams possibly being sidelined for the opener on Sunday, Griffen might get a chance to show off his versatility early. . .we might even see a Vikings' front four of Allen, Sharrif Floyd, Griffen, and Robison on the field at the same time in passing situations.
Everson Griffen certainly has the potential to be a breakout star this season. We'll be looking forward to seeing whether or not it happens.