EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It was apparent long before the Minnesota Vikings gave Everson Griffen a five-year, $42.5 million contract in March that they would move on from Jared Allen. The Vikings hadn't pursued a new contract with Allen during the 2013 season, and had opened cursory talks with Griffen about a new deal even before they hired Mike Zimmer, who brought in a defensive system that didn't mesh with how Allen had played in Minnesota.
But when the Vikings finally made it official that they were moving on, paying Griffen to effectively become Allen's replacement at right end, the 32-year-old could see that Griffen was ready to take off.
"I've always told 'Ev' from the beginning that I don't know that there's a man -- maybe (Julius) Peppers is a physical specimen like him," Allen said in a conference call with Minnesota reporters on Wednesday. "Physically, Everson is one of the most gifted people I've ever seen. I always told him, once he got the mental side of the game down, he could be an All-Pro."
Griffen has nine sacks in as many games, which has him tied for fifth in the league, but he also has been solid against the run all season, and has made a number of impressive plays in pursuit, ranging to the sideline to take down ballcarriers. He credited Allen, who signed a four-year deal with the Bears in late March, for his mentorship over the four seasons they spent together, and in whatever way he's serving as a successor to Allen, Griffen is doing it well.
"I always try to give people tips. I don't know that I had any bearing on what he's doing. I'm not trying to say that at all," Allen said. "I just always told him, 'Keep studying. Keep taking care of what you need to take care of on the field, and everything else will take care of [itself].' When I watch film, I watch him process games. He's doing well against the run; it's not like he's just rushing the passer. He's converting well. He had a sack late in the Green Bay game, a nice inside move where he ran down Aaron [Rodgers]. Obviously, they were way behind, but just to see him continue to play hard, that's awesome. I always knew he was very capable, and it's good to see it come together for him."