Jun 17, 2014; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) talks with a teammate at practice at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Top 25 Vikings of 2014: No. 11 DE Everson Griffen

Training camp is on but the countdown doesn’t stop. Here’s #11…

DE Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen is being paid like a top-tier defensive lineman this year. Now all he has to do is prove that he can play like a top-tier defensive lineman.

We’ve seen tantalizing hints of Griffen’s talent over the past four years. Sprinklings of greatness. Now he has to prove he can be an every-down player.

Griffen would seem to possess the perfect skill set for Mike Zimmer’s hybrid scheme, with all its different looks. Griffen can rush the passer, he can drop in coverage, he can line up inside and outside.

But Zimmer also puts a special emphasis on stopping the run, and that’s the area where Griffen has yet to consistently prove himself.

Griffen won’t be a specialist in Zimmer’s defense like he was in Leslie Frazier‘s. He won’t be able to come in for a limited number of snaps and just get after the quarterback. He will have to master all facets of his position.

The talent is there for Griffen to be one of the league’s best defensive linemen, but it’s not just about the talent. If he’s going to live up to that new contract, he will have to become a more refined technician.

With the contract will come not just greater on-field responsibility but a greater amount of scrutiny from fans and media. Griffen is now one of the faces of the Vikings’ defense. He’s one of the men responsible for giving the Vikings a new defensive identity in the post Jared Allen-world.


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