Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman was recently on ESPN and was asked about the breakout performance of Everson Griffen last season. Spielman was obviously impressed with Griffen last season, and it is clearly not OK with Spielman for Griffen to be the team’s backup defensive end again this season.
Spielman said Griffen is expected to see time as a pass rushing outside linebacker this season as well as a defensive end. This is a good move by the coaching staff as Griffen racked up eight sacks last year despite starting just one game. This is great news for the talented fourth-year player who could possibly be the next Demarcus Ware or Aldon Smith, two talented pass rushers who can play multiple positions.
If Griffen is given enough playing time, the Vikings could have one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the league, which is crucial considering the passing attacks they must go up against in their division. The secondary for this team has been considerably worse over the recent years, but with the additions of Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes in the past two drafts, the expectations have risen, and now with Griffen being a force in teams’ backfields more often, the Vikings should have a top-10 defense.
The Vikings have the option at the end of the season to re-sign Jared Allen or let him walk and replace him in-house. This season will be Griffen’s audition for the left defensive end spot, but if he is able to show the ability to be a dominant pass-rushing outside linebacker, the Vikings could make the decision to bring Allen back and keep Griffen as a hybrid linebacker/end.
This season has plenty of things for fans to look forward to, but after the interview of Spielman, fans have even more to be excited about. The Vikings take on the Detroit Lions this upcoming Sunday in their first regular season game, and it will be interesting to watch how diverse a role Griffen has on defense and if he is able to make an impact at two positions.