The Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday evening signed defensive back Cedric Griffin of Texas, one of the team's three choices in the second round of the 2006 draft, to a four-year contract worth $3.23 million.
The deal, just the sixth contract consummated in the second round leaguewide, includes a $1.62 million signing bonus. Although the pace of signings around the NFL has picked up this week, as anticipated, only 10 of the 97 players selected in the first three rounds have agreed to terms.
Signing the versatile Griffin means the Vikings now have three of their six choices under contract. Minnesota on Monday signed fourth-round defensive end Ray Edwards and fifth-round safety Greg Blue to four-year contracts. Edwards' deal is worth $2.003 million and includes a $393,000 signing bonus. Blue received a $170,000 signing bonus on a contract worth $1.78 million.
As the 48th player chosen overall, Griffin is the earliest of the Vikings' three picks in the second round. The Vikings chose center Ryan Cook with the 51st pick and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson with the 64th and final pick in the stanza. Minnesota must still strike deals with both second-rounders and with first-round linebacker Chad Greenway.
In 50 games at Texas, including 43 starts, Griffin split his time between cornerback and the two safety positions. While he possesses the kind of size (6-feet-0¼, 199 pounds) and aggressiveness most teams now covet at cornerback, Griffin may lack the top-end speed necessary for the position.
Scouts around the league were split before the draft about Griffin's best position, but Minnesota coaches project him as a free safety. He certainly has the right mix of physical attributes to eventually succeed at that position in the new "cover two" scheme that was installed this spring by first-year defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.
Often overshadowed by fellow defensive back Michael Huff, the first-round choice of the Oakland Raiders this year, Griffin was seen as a stabilizing force in the secondary for the national champions. He finished his career with 267 tackles, three interceptions, 32 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
He was also a standout performer on special teams, where he is expected to contribute immediately for the Vikings, and in 2002 Griffin returned a blocked field goal 56 yards for a touchdown.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.