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Everson Griffen has captured the attention of Vikings fans and pundits, who have noted his prodigious increase in production, brought about by his surprising work ethic, and incredible athleticism.
Griffen has only been on the field for 200 snaps, yet has recorded three sacks, four hits and five quarterback hurries—one of the more productive performances in the league.
His lighter frame of 260 pounds should attract teams needing a 3-4 outside linebacker, a system he seems perfect for. His size, weight and speed gives him the perfect combination of talent and physical skill that scouts are looking for in a prospect.
Before character concerns dropped Griffen into the fourth round, he was a second-round prospect and has been proving why lately on the field.
His experience at linebacker with the Vikings was a failure, but in a different system may be an entirely different story. He can rush from the second level as well as anyone—excepting perhaps Von Miller—and can rush from the edge with tenacity and speed. Setting up wider as a pass rusher in a 3-4 system may give him the latitude he needs to perfectly display all of his skills.
He doesn't necessarily play in coverage as well as some linebackers do, but his coverage responsibilities won't be that important for teams needing an effective pass rush from a player that has played all over the field.
Griffen is extremely experienced at disguising coverages, confusing offenses and sugaring gaps to change and confound protection schemes. Defenses that rely on deception will particularly appreciate that.
At the top of the list has to be the Washington Redskins, who rely on deception more than anything else to get things done, but haven't been able to close the deal. The loss of Brian Orakpo has made their defense one dimensional and lack the punch they need to pull away from the rest of the NFC East in a surprisingly close playoff race. With that potent offense, the Redskins should be interested in instantly upgrading their defense.
Green Bay might also be interested after the injury to Nick Perry, but it looks like it won't be a season-ending injury. Nevertheless, relying on Erik Walden is never good, and if the Packers want to turn things around, their takeaway-oriented defense will need to generate consistent pass pressure. Without knowing how long Perry is out, the Packers may be interested buyers, but perhaps look elsewhere knowing the potential price.
With them are the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose defense has not lived up to its reputation and may be missing James Harrison for more time than they expected with the concussion. The Steelers do not yet know who they have in backup Jason Worilds, and with Harrison expected to retire within a season or two anyway, they could do better than take a look at an already productive pass rusher.
The New York Jets aren't shy to trade, and they may want to pull the trigger on such an option given the disappointing performance of Calvin Pace. While Griffen wouldn't start in place of Pace, he might put pressure on the veteran to start producing more. The loss of Darrelle Revis means that the Jets will need all of their players to perform better on defense if they want to remain consistent, and an addition of a productive outside linebacker will give them the boost they need to cover up for the hole left behind by Revis Island.
Beyond those specific teams, any number of other 3-4 teams may look to bite on this athletic end with clear talent. It seems as if Griffen's troublesome days are behind him and the Vikings could get good value from what is clearly a potential star.
While the Vikings would be lucky to demand a first-round pick, even a future pick, they may be able to land a conditional late first-round pick or, more likely, a second round pick. That would probably mean they would translate a great backup into a starter for the future.