Sounds Like Griffen’s Motor Will Be Revving

Posted Apr 27, 2010

It’s common for teams to disclose that they had a player graded to a round (or more) higher than when they actually drafted said player. What’s not as common, though, is to hear a key decision maker acknowledge what it is that caused that player to slide a bit in the draft.

And both examples of post-draft hyperbole occurred this year in the aftermath of the Vikings selection of former University of Southern California standout Everson Griffen in the 4th round. Griffen, a 6-3, 273-pound DE, was widely-considered a 1st to 2nd round talent in the build-up to this year’s draft, yet the Vikings were able to secure him with the 100th overall pick.

“Very talented player,” Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman said. But Spielman also acknowledged what led to Griffen’s drop down the draft board. “The biggest negative was that sometimes his motor didn’t rev all the time.”

While speaking with reporters last Saturday following the selection of Griffen, Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell also acknowledged the inconsistency issue with Griffen, saying that at times the DE looked like a 1st round pick and then at other times he disappeared.

“The consistency level has to improve somewhat in his play,” Studwell said.

We’ll soon find out if Griffen will have his motor revving in the NFL. The Vikings will hold a 3-day rookie minicamp this weekend and then Griffen will be back with the entire roster when the Vikings have their mandatory minicamp in June.

Griffen will join a DE rotation that is not short on talent. Jared Allen and Ray Edwards have a hammerlock on starting positions and 2007 fourth-round pick Brian Robison has provided solid depth behind both players. Add to that a stout tandem at DT with the Williams Wall, and Griffen should have all the motivation in the world to rev his engine.

And it sounds like he already knows that.

“Just playing at a high speed every play,” Griffen told reporters last Saturday when asked what area of his game he needs to improve most. “I played at a high speed (in college). It’s taking it to the next level. Just watching Kevin, watching Jared Allen and how he takes it to the next level every snap 100 miles per hour. That’s what you have to do. You have to take it to the next level.”

Once Griffen has that motor going, the sky could be the limit. He was talented enough to earn a starting spot at USC as a true freshman and true sophomore. Inconsistency derailed both of those seasons, but he rededicated himself to the team for his 2009 season and the results were impressive (45 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks).

“This guy can play against the run, he can rush the passer,” Spielman said. “A lot of ‘34’ teams (3-4 defense) also looked at him as a potential 34 outside linebacker just because he’s so athletic.

“To get a player of that quality, one of those guys that ended up dropping where we had very high on our board. We always try to take the best player available, and he was definitely in that category.”