Minnesota Vikings: 5 players who need to step up in 2019

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Xavier Rhodes
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Xavier Rhodes /
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(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Everson Griffen
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Everson Griffen /

Everson Griffen – DE

The most notable part of Everson Griffen’s career may end up being that it is bookended by a couple of very good defensive ends—Jared Allen and Danielle Hunter.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Griffen was behind Allen and Brian Robison on the depth chart for the early portion of his career. He did not become a full-time starter until 2014 following Allen’s departure.

For two seasons, Griffen led the Vikings in sacks with 12 in 2014 and 10.5 in 2015, the same year the team drafted Hunter in the third round. Currently fourth in Minnesota franchise history with 66.5 sacks, Griffen is only 19 sacks behind Allen and 26.5 ahead of Hunter.

Since 2015, Griffen and Hunter have alternated leading the Vikings in sacks with the leading total increasing each year, resulting in Hunter leading the team in 2018 with 14.5. For the pattern to hold true that means Griffen needs to increase his sack total from last season of 5.5 to 15 or better in 2019.

Due to personal reasons, Griffen played in only 11 games last season, the fewest he has played since his rookie season in 2010. His 5.5 sacks were also the fewest since breaking into the starting lineup in 2014.

The Vikings’ defense will be a lot better with a healthy Griffen anchoring one end of the defensive line and Hunter anchoring the other. If Griffen can perform as he did in 2017, when he led Minnesota with 13 sacks, the defense will be better. It will put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and make the job of Vikings’ defensive backfield a lot easier.