Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cedric Griffin will be a Viking for several years to come. The Vikings announced the resigning Friday. Griffin, a fourth year veteran out of Texas, was a second round pick in 2006 by the Vikings.
In his rookie season, Griffin didn't see a whole lot of playing time until week ten when he took over the starting spot for struggling free agent acquisition Fred Smoot. He would finish with an impressive 41 tackles and two interceptions.
In the 2007 offseason, Griffin was immediately announced as the starting corner oppisite of Antoine Winfield. He was widely criticized for not having a single interception that season despite putting up an impressive 92 tackles. Fans saw Griffin giving up the big play too many times.
The 2008 season rolled around and the team did not upgrade the cornerback position. They signed free agent Benny Sapp, but he was to serve as a special teams member as well as a time-to-time nickle cornerback. Sapp received more playing time when teammate Charles Gordon went out with a broken ankle.
Vikings' fans didn't see Griffin as a starting-caliber corner in the National Football League. But as the season progressed, many Vikings fans started to appreciate this guys' ability to lay people out. He proved this against the Saints last season when he sent Billy Miller home early on Monday Night Football.
The Vikings have arguably the best tackling corner in the NFL in Antoine Winfield. Now they may have found a good runner-up in Cedric Griffin. He is a proven hitting machine.
Though he is still criticized for giving up the big play, he lead the Vikings in passes defensed in 2008 with fourteen. Vikings' fans seemed to have calmed down a little because of Griffin's dramatic improvement over the last two seasons.
People will jump all over this saying the Griffin gives up too many catches, but when Antoine Winfield is the cornerback playing opposite of you, you're going to get a lot of balls thrown your way. For the most part, Griffin did a very good job in 2008.
The Vikings improved drastically in their pass defense this last season. After ranking dead last in 2007, the Vikings jumped to 18th in 2008.
Though you can attribute it to a monster defensive end in Jared Allen, who totaled 14.5 sacks, good for fifth in the league, while Kevin Williams added 8.5 more, leading all defensive tackles. But another big part of it was Griffin's improvement last season.
This offseason, there still have been several Vikings fans, including myself, who would like to see the Vikings draft a cornerback.
This is not because we want Griffin replaced, but that Winfield is getting a little older and a better nickle cornerback than Benny Sapp or Charles Gordon would be nice. The draftee could later succeed Winfield.
Resigning Griffin means the Vikings believe he is only going to get better. He has established himself as an elite tackling corner. He is a physical presence, at 6'1" and 205 pounds. Griffin has a tremendous ability to jam a wide receiver at the line of scrimmage.
He doesn't have the interception numbers most teams would like in a cornerback, but not many cornerbacks can give you 90 tackles in a season on a consistent basis. This guy can flat out hit and stop the run several yards behind the line of scrimmage.
This is one Vikings' fan who was screaming at Childress to draft a cornerback last season. I'm glad they didn't. Griffin could start for many NFL teams now. He is happy to be back in Minnesota for a few more year, which is completely fine with me.
Winfield is set to become a free agent next season and has expressed interest in staying. The only thing left to do is sign him back up for a few more seasons.
He is getting up there in age at 32, but he is still one of the best pure shutdown cornerbacks in the game. Griffin and Winfield have become close in Minnesota which is why he could very well be back for a few more seasons.