With the draft coming up on Thursday, April 27th, the Vikings currently have 8 draft choices, but none in the 1st round. But, they do have a second rounder.
As the fans and experts prepare for round 2 on Friday, here is a look back at all the picks the Vikings have ever made in the second round of the NFL Draft.
As you peruse this list of good and bad, you can see some of the gems that first coach Norm Van Brocklin and Bud Grant took (you will see plenty of whiffs too), but you will also realize how good a talent evaluator Denny Green was on offense, and how clueless he seemed in getting defensive talent. Argue away, did we get these categorized correctly?
The Good (26 fall into this category)
1961 – RIP HAWKINS (15th overall), LB, North Carolina – Played 5 seasons, starting all but 4 games. Had 12 INTs (amazing for a MLB) and 3 TDs.
1962 – NO CHOICE, traded, along with 11th rounder, to Cleveland for Jim Prestel, Jim Marshall, and Paul Dickson. Dickson started 81 games at DT and had 3 fumble recoveries (they did not keep sack stats back in the 60’s) Jim Marshall had 127 sacks, 30 fumble recoveries and started a (then) record 270 straight games and went to 3 Pro Bowls. Jim Prestel was a DT who started 56 games for Minnesota and had a fumble recovery and a Interception for a TD .
1969 – (First of 2 choices in round 2) ED WHITE (39th overall), G, California. Choice from N.Y. Giants as a part of Tarkenton trade. Played 17 years in the NFL (8 in Minnesota and 9 in San Diego), earning 4 Pro Bowl berths. Started 210 games in his NFL career, was the NFL Arm-wrestling champion, and was the first truly effective 300 pound offensive lineman in the NFL. He was cat-quick, according to Bob Lurtsema, and today is an artist outside of San Diego.
1974 (2nd of 2 choices in round 2) MATT BLAIR (51st overall), LB, Iowa State. Played 12 seasons with 130 starts, 16 Interceptions, 38 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and played in 6 Pro Bowls.
1976 – SAMMY WHITE (54th overall), WR, Grambling – 118 starts in 10 years, and had 393 catches for 6,400 yards (16.3 yard per catch career average) and 50 touchdowns. Scored 10 times in his rookie year, and was honored as the 1976 Rookie of the year. He had 2 seasons where he was in the top 10 in the NFL for receiving and was named to 2 Pro Bowls.
1977 – DENNIS SWILLEY (55th overall), G, Texas A&M – Became the full time starter at Center in 1979 (after Mick Tingelhoff retired) and started the next 130 games. Solid performer, but never a Pro Bowler. Is now a musician in Austin, Texas.
1978 – JOHN TURNER (48th overall), CB, Miami – Played 10 years in the NFL, 9 for Minnesota with one season in San Diego in his 7th season. Had 24 interceptions in his career and one returned for a TD. He started 70 games in his 101-game Viking career.
1980 – WILLIE TEAL (30th overall), CB, LSU, Choice from San Francisco for 2nd and 3rd choice in 1980. Had an 8-year NFL career, with the first 7 for the Vikings. 61 starts in 80 career games and registered 15 interceptions. Had his one sole touchdown in 1985, when he returned a Ron Jaworski pass for a TD to help lead a 28 point 4th quarter comeback against the Eagles.
1982- TERRY TAUSCH (39th overall), T, Texas. Started 68 games in his Viking career before one sole season in San Francisco. He was a workman-like right guard in the pros, and was neither spectacular or a terrible liability.
1985- ISSIAC HOLT (30th overall), CB, Alcorn State. Started 31 games in Minnesota and had 14 Interceptions before he was included as part of the mammoth package that got traded to the Dallas Cowboys for Herschel Walker. Holt would play 4 more seasons in Dallas and get 9 additional interceptions in his career. He was 5th in the NFL in 1986 (Vikings) with 8 interceptions.
1986 – NO CHOICE, traded to NY Giants for Gary Zimmerman. After starting his career in the USFL, Zimmerman started every game of his 7-year Viking career, where he was named to 3 Pro Bowls and was a 2-year All-Pro. He was reluctantly traded to Denver after a contract dispute, and would play 5 more seasons, and collect 4 more Pro Bowl nods in the AFC. He started every one of his 184 games in his NFL career and was named to the Hall of Fame after his retirement.
1986 – NO CHOICE, traded to Miami for Anthony Carter. After being a league MVP with the USFL’s Michigan Panthers, Carter would start 125 of his next 133 games as a Minnesota Viking, where he 3 Pro Bowl Season, 3 consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons, and nearly 8,000 receiving yards in his 483 catches. He is best remembered for his incredible post season in 1987, where he turned the tide of the game vs the 12-3 New Orleans Saints with a 78 yard punt return for a touchdown that put the Vikings ahead for good. He followed that up with an NFL record-setting 10 catches for 227 yards in the upset win over the defending world champion 49ers in San Francisco in the NFL Divisional playoffs. He left the Vikings in 1994 to play 2 injury-filled years with the Detroit Lions, where he started just 1 game of the 7 he played over those 2 seasons.
1988 – BRAD EDWARDS (54th overall), S, South Carolina, Choice from Denver. Searching for the next Paul Krause, the Vikings had high hopes for Edwards, but gave up on him after just 2 seasons and 7 starts. He would go on to Washington, where he would start 48 games in a row starting in 1991, and had 2 Interceptions in the 1991 Super Bowl vs Buffalo, where he received a Super Bowl Winning ring. He had a near Pro Bowl year in 1992 and then experienced a downturn in his career and was a backup in his last 3 seasons with Atlanta. Good Viking pick, but they gave up on him too early.
1992 – (1st of 2 picks in round 2) ROBERT HARRIS (39th overall), DE, Southern. Choice from Seattle in Keith Millard trade. Starting only 1 of 34 games in Minnnesota, the Vikings cut Harris loose after just 3 sacks. The Giants picked him up and he became a starter (started all 63 games with the Giants in his career) with workman –like results He had a best season in 1997 with 10 sacks and had 24 total sacks in New York to go with 4 fumble recoveries. Good pick, but Vikings let him go too soon.
1993 – QADRY ISMAIL (52nd overall), WR, Syracuse. Starting only 9 of his 63 games in his Viking career, the “missle” did turn heads on occasion with his speed, but failed to unseat Jake Reed, Anthony Carter or Cris Carter. When his rookie contract expired in 1996, he jumped to the Dolphins for the 1997 season. He did almost nothing there, nor the next year in a 1 year visit with the Saints. But, he would become a 3-year starter in Baltimore, catching 191 passes for 2,819 yards and 18 TDs, winning a Super Bowl ring after the 2000 season. He played one more season in Indianapolis in 2002, and started every game and made 44 catches. VikeFans.com talked to Qadry at the Super Bowl in Houston this past February, and he said he wants to come talk about his days in purple with Warren Moon and as a kick returner. In Minnesota, Ismail had 147 kickoff returns for 3,273 yards.
1995 – (1st of 2 picks in round 2) ORLANDO THOMAS (42nd overall), S, SW Louisiana. Choice from Denver in G. Zimmerman trade. Spending his entire 7 year career with the Vikings, Thomas started all but 11 games (injury). He recorded 22 interceptions for 2 TDs and had a remarkable 10 fumble recoveries and scored 2 more times on fumble returns. He had a nose for the ball, and was second in the NFL in interceptions with 9 in his rookie season. Sadly, Orlando passed away from cancer a few years ago – he was beloved by his teammates.
1995 (2nd of 2 picks in round 2) COREY FULLER (55th overall), CB, Florida State – Playing 10 NFL seasons, Fuller had his greatest success in Minnesota, where he snagged 10 interceptions in his 56 starts. He hit like a ton of bricks from the cornerback blitz, and was in high demand when he became a free agent, leaving the Vikings for the Browns for 4 years. He finished his career with 2 seasons in Baltimore.
1999 – JIM KLEINSASSER (44), TE, North Dakota. Choice from Pittsburgh in exchange of draft picks. Played 13 season and took an incredible pounding in his Viking career. A devastating blocker at 285lbs, he would often be helping with 300lb+ defensive linemen. The injury toll got to him several times, as he missed 51 starts due to various wounds from his on-field battles. He had a 192 catches for 1,688 yards in his career as a mostly-blocker. But, he also was one of the first H-backs used in the NFL, as he rushed 43 times for 147 yards, mostly in 3rd or 4th and short situations.
2003 – E.J. HENDERSON (40th overall), LB, Maryland – A smallish “thumper” who played downhill and as if he was larger than he was. He started 105 of 125 games for the Vikings (the only team he ever played for) and had 552 tackles, 5 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries to go with his 15.5 sacks. He suffered a gruesome broken femur injury versus the Arizona Cardinals in 2008, an injury that threatened to end his NFL career. He came back to have 3 more solid season, but the injury left him a step slower. Today, he works with local youth on behalf of the Minnesota Vikings.
2009 – PHIL LOADHOLT (54th overall), OT, Oklahoma. A starter his very first season, he would play in all 89 games as a Viking as the starter. He was a devastating blocker in the run game, but really struggled in pass protection because at 370lbs, he simply could not handle outside rushers. That said, he was the best right tackle the Vikings have had in quite some time. His lack of conditioning started to catch up with him and he was injured twice to end his 2014 season and in training camp of 2015. Not surprisingly, he elected to retire before the 2016 season, rather than risk further injury or to go through the rigors of training camp.
2011 – KYLE RUDOLPH (43rd overall), TE, Notre Dame. A lot of promise, and had good chemistry with young QB Christian Ponder. Became a Pro Bowler in just his second season, and won the MVP for the Pro Bowl game in Hawaii. He is a better receiver than blocker, and his a naturally large man and target. A former basketball player, he can box out smaller defenders and go up and fight for the ball. 2013 was expected to be his breakout year after his Pro Bowl performance, but he was injured for half the games in each of 2013 and 2014. He bounced back in 2016 to have 83 catches for 840 yards and 7 TDs, and became a favorite and trusted target of QB Sam Bradford.
2012 – NO CHOICE. Traded to Baltimore for 1C – (Really a First Round Pick) Harrison Smith – Smith – A crushing hitter with range, Smith has started all but one of his 67 games with the Vikings and was named to his first Pro Bowl after the 2016 season. He has 12 interceptions (4 returned for TDs, 4 fumble recoveries, 7.5 sacks and 305 tackles in his first 5 seasons in the league. He appears to have not fully peaked and better performances may still be to come.
2013 – NO CHOICE. Traded to New England for 1C – (Really a First Round Pick) Cordarrell Patterson – After playing only one season of Divison I football at Tennessee, Rick Spielman jumped up into the first round to get Patterson, a raw talent with lots of upside. However, Patterson was never able to fully develop as an NFL wide receiver, because he did not really learn sophisticated pass routes in his 4 years in Minnesota. A player who relied heavily on his speed in college, he could not simply outrun defenders in the NFL during his routes, and he became primarily a bubble screen player who would make yards after the catch. For his 4 year Viking career, the speedster had just 132 catches and averaged just uner 10 yards a catch. He was an able runner out of the backfield, but 3 offensive coordinators seemed to underutilize his running ability in Minnesota. But, no one can question Patterson’s kick return capabilities. In 134 career kickoff returns, he averaged an unheard-of, over 30 yards per return and scored 5 times. However, as a 4th wide receiver, Minnesota may have wanted him as a kick returner, but not at a heavy free agent price the Raiders agreed to pay Patterson to move to Oakland for the 2017 season.
2014 – NO CHOICE. Traded to Seattle for 1C. – Teddy Bridgewater. (Really a First Round Pick) Considered one of the top 3 QBs in the 2014 draft, Rick Spielman moved up to get Bridgewater at the #32 pick. This shrewd move allowed the extra year on the rookie contract, which would be critical to retain Teddy after his devastating knee injury in 2016. In his first two seasons in Minnesota, Bridgewater was steady, reliable and protected the ball. He showed an unexpected ability to both move in the pocket and run when needed. He also was very adept at staying calm in the pocket to go through his progression reads and give his receivers time to get open. He had 28 TDs and 21 Interceptions in his first 2 years, and needed to take more chances to open up the offense and give his receivers a chance to make plays. Often, Bridgewater would not anticipate a receiver open and throw early, but would wait til they broke, and then the were not open. He is very accurate in short to intermediate routes, but has shown very unreliable in deep routes, often far overthrowing his targets. He is game manager at this point, and seemed to be breaking out of that mode in the 2016 preseason, when he was injured and lost for the season. The jury is still out on Bridgewater on if he can continue to progress, or if he can ever even play again.
2015 – ERIC KENDRICKS (45th overall), LB, UCLA. Plays much bigger than his height and weight would suggest he can. Always around the ball and very active. Excellent in pass coverage and his a true 3-down linebacker. He is a hitting machine and a very active and effective blitzer.
The Bad (21 players fall in this category)
1963 – BOBBY BELL (16th overall), LB, Minnesota – Elected to play in the AFL for the Kansas City Chiefs. Played 12 seasons in the NFL, with 26 interceptions and 6 TDs, played in 9 Pro Bowls and is an NFL Hall of Famer. Great Pick and an awful loss by the Vikings.
1964 – HAL BEDSOLE (19th overall), TE, USC – Played 3 seasons, had 26 catches and 3 TDs. BUST
1965 – ARCHIE SUTTON (15th overall), T, Illinois, from N.Y. Giants as part of the Hugh McElhenny trade. – Played 19 games in Minnesota before being cut.
1969 (2nd of the 2nd round choice) VOLLY MURPHY (43rd overall), WR, Texas-El Paso – Never played a down in the NFL. Cut in training camp.
1970 – BILL CAPPLEMAN (51st overall), QB, Florida State – Played one year each in Minnesota and Detroit. Completed 9 of 18 passes in his career for no TDs and an INT. He was the hope to replace Super Bowl IV starting QB Joe Kapp. Cappleman was a collasol bust.
1971 – NO CHOICE, traded to Philadelphia as part of Norm Snead trade. Snead threw for 196 career TDs, mostly with Philadelphia and Washington, but was horrible in the one year he played in Minnesota. He posted 37 of 75 numbers with 1 TD and 6 INTs in Minnesota. He was cut when the Vikings traded for Fran Tarkenton before the 1972 season
1974 (1st of 2 choices in round 2) JOHN HOLLAND (29th overall), WR, Tennessee State. Choice from San Diego along with 3rd choice for Clinton Jones and Carl Gersbach. Played one season in Minnesota and had 5 catches for 84 yards, and was cut at the end of the season. He moved to the Bills, where he would have 30 more catches in 3 seasons as a backup for 550 yards and 3 TDs.
1981 – (1st of 2 choices in round 2) MARDYE McDOLE (39th overall), WR, Mississippi, Choice from Baltimore for 1st choice in 1981. Played only 3 season in the NFL, all for Minnesota and started just one game. He had 12 kick returns for a modest 16.3 yard average and caught just 3 passes for 29 yards in the NFL.
1981 (2nd of 2 choices in round 2) ROBIN SENDLEIN (45th overall), LB, Texas. 4 years in Minnesota, starting just 9 of 56 games in an era where the Vikings had limited linebacker depth. He finished his career with one season in Miami, and registered a few tackles, no interceptions and no fumble recoveries.
1984 – NO CHOICE, traded to Houston for Archie Manning. A 15 year NFL veteran and former #1 draft choice of the Saints, Archie played his last 2 season in Minnesota, after Viking starter Tommy Kramer injured his kneed and the Vikings had no replacement. Was sent from Houston to Minnesota along with HOF tight end Dave Casper (who wanted to go home to Minnesota to finish his career). Archie lost all 5 games he started for a dismal Viking offense. He got sacked 11 times versus the vaunted Bear defense and never played again after that game. In Minnesota, he as 52 for 94 for 545 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTS. His son, Peyton Manning went to elementary school in Minnesota while Archie played for the Vikings.
1987- RAY BERRY (44th overall), LB, Baylor – 7 years in the NFL, with 6 for the Vikings. Started 29 games for the Vikings, and had tackles, but no sacks, interceptions or fumble recoveries in that time. He played his final 7 games for Seattle, where he did nothing of note.
1989 – DAVID BRAXTON (52nd overall), LB, Wake Forest – 6 NFL season for a man who did almost nothing in the league. He played just 4 games for the Vikings in two years, and then he started 2 of the next 58 games he played with Phoenix (not known as Arizona at that time) and he finished up the string with 9 games in Cincinnati. His only stat of note was fumble recovery in his 4th season with Phoenix.
1996 – JAMES MANLEY (45th overall), DT, Vanderbilt – A terrible bust, he never played in a game in his one season in Minnesota and the NFL.
1997 – TORRIAN GRAY (49th overall), S, Virginia Tech – With high expectations on a team that desperately needed defensive back help, Gray proved not to be up to the task. He started 3 games in 2 NFL seasons, making 35 tackles and one interception before being cut in training camp of 1999.
2000 (2nd of 2 picks in round 2) MICHAEL BOIREAU (56th overall), DE, Miami (Fla.). – Never played a down in the NFL. Injured in camp (eye), and took an injury settlement.
2001 – WILLIE HOWARD (57th overall), DT, Stanford – Played 8 games his rookie year, never starting, but made 10 tackles. He was cut in the 2002 preseason.
2002 – RAONALL SMITH (38th overall), LB, Washington State – Another with high expectations to shore up a weak linebacker corps, he started just 9 games in his 30 with Minnesota. He had just 52 tackles in 3 seasons and 1 interception. He went on to St Louis where he did even less with the Rams, starting no games and making no impact.
2004 – DONTARRIOUS THOMAS (48th overall), LB, Auburn – he was considered a “steal of the draft” when this highly touted college linebacker slid out of the first round and to the Vikings at 48. The Vikings should have made the same decision that 31 other teams did and passed on Thomas. He started just 10 games in his 63 year career (5 years, all with Minnesota) and he was always out of position and really had no positive impact at all on the field. He was a major disappointment.
2005 – MARCUS JOHNSON (49th overall), G, Mississippi – Starting 18 of 47 games for the Guard-starved Vikings, Johnson was constantly overmatched and just short of awful. Tampa took a swing at his services in 2009, but cut him after 6 games, where he did not play at all.
2008 – TYRELL JOHNSON (43rd overall), S, Arkansas State. 4 years in Minnesota and one in Detroit. He was a very consistent NFL player – consistently bad. Started 27 games and had just 2 interceptions and averaged just 20 tackles a game. Harrison Smith, he was not!
2010 – CHRIS COOK (34th overall), CB, Virginia. The Vikings were so in need of secondary help, they started Cook the last 5 games of his rookie year From that point, he started 29 games over 4 years for Minnesota, and accomplished something that is almost impossible to do – he had no interceptions in 4 seasons. Fans would scream at their television screens as Cook, who had tremendous speed, would always be right on his receiver, and never make a play. Pete Bercich has gone on record as saying that Cook was his least favorite player he has ever been around because he would not try to play when hurt. Pete would say “you can’t make the club, it you are always in the tub”. Cook would be suspended for several games due to domestic abuse allegations, and spent his final 7 games of his NFL career in San Francisco, where he, predictably, was injured for most games and made no interceptions or plays on the ball.
1975 – ART RILEY (52nd overall), DT USC. A 2-year starter for John McKay at USC, he never even made it out of camp with the Vikings.
The Bizarre (It’s all Lance Rentzel and Herschel Walker)
1965 (2nd of 2 choices in round 2) LANCE RENTZEL (23rd overall), RB, Oklahoma – Moved to WR and had 2 catches for 10 yards in 2 years in Minnesota. He played sparingly as a backup running back due to recurring injuries and his contributions came mainly as a kickoff returner during his first two seasons. He set the record for the longest kickoff return (101 yards) in franchise history as a rookie, which was broken by Aundrae Allison‘s 104-yarder in 2007.
On May 2, 1967, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a third-round draft choice (#76-Mike McGill). He was leading the team in receiving yards in 1970, when he was arrested for exposing himself to a ten-year-old girl.[ At the time the accusation was made, the press revealed a nearly forgotten incident that happened when as a Minnesota Viking in September 1966, he was charged with exposing himself to two young girls in St. Paul, and pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of disorderly conduct. He was not sentenced to jail, but merely ordered to seek psychiatric care. Because of the nationwide reaction and publicity from the scandal, his wife, the singer and actress Joey Heatherton, divorced him shortly thereafter.
Rentzel asked the Cowboys to place him on the inactive list so he could devote his time to settling his personal affairs. He would miss the last three games of the 1970 regular season, including the Cowboys’ playoff drive to its narrow Super Bowl Vloss to the Baltimore Colts.
On May 19, 1971, he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, in exchange for tight end Billy Truax and wide receiver Wendell Tucker. Head coach Tom Landry said after the trade, “We know we are giving up on one of the top flankers in the league, but I thought he would be better off in another city where he had the same opportunity regularly. ” In Los Angeles (Rams), he became a semi-star with 266 catches for a 19 yard average and 38 TDs.
The Herschel Walker choice took away the 2nd round Choices for the Vikings for 3 years.
1990 – NO CHOICE, traded to Dallas in Herschel Walker trade. A Heisman trophy winner who had rushed for 1,514 yards for the Cowboys in 1989, he was supposed to be the last piece of the puzzle to the Vikings Super Bowl. After seeing him make a kickoff return for 50 yards and run for 137 yards in his debut vs Green Bay, inexplicably, the Viking failed to use Walker as much more than a decoy for the next year, ultimately benching him in favor the less talented Terry Allen in 1991, and reducing his role to a highly paid kick returner and 3rd down back. Walker would leave in 1992, and play a key role for the Philadelphia Eagles for 3 years and then finishing his playing career in a final season with the Giants. The Vikings paid a king’s ransom for Walker, and it would hamstring the franchise for years. Walker is now an MMA fighter at age 53 and a successful one.
1991 – 2ND CHOICE, traded to Dallas in Herschel Walker trade. See 1990 description.
1992 (2nd of 2 picks in round 2) NO CHOICE, to Dallas in Herschel Walker trade. – See 1990 Description
The Average (14 players fall into this category)
1966 – JIM LINDSEY (27 the overall), RB, Arkansas – Played 7 years in Minnesota, but could not unseat Dave Osborn, Bill Brown or Oscar Reed. Had 566 yards in 7 seasons with only a 3.2 yard per carry average and 6 TDs. Was a good 3rd down back with 56 catches for an 11.3 yard per catch average and 4 more TDs. The drafting of Chuck Foreman spelled the end of Lindsey’s career.
1967 – BOB GRIM (28th overall), WR, Oregon State. Choice from N.Y. Giants. In 2 stints with the Vikings, he had 96 catches for over 1400 yards. Mainly a 3rd or 4th WR option, Grim started just 23 of his 79 games with the Vikings. He was traded in 1972 for Fran Tarkenton, but returned to Minnesota in 1976.
1968 – CHARLIE WEST (33rd overall), DB, Texas-El Paso – Early on, he was a very good return man. Had a 98 punt return for a TD and averaged 25 yards per return on 82 kickoff returns. Started 32 games for the Vikings, recording 3 fumble recoveries and making 11 interceptions. Finished his 12 year NFL career with Detroit and Denver.
1972 – ED MARINARO (50th overall), RB, Cornell – started 25 of his 50 games as a Viking, and became a reliable 3rd down back. Had 1,007 yards rushing, but only a 3.3 yard average. However, as a receiver, he had 125 catches for 1,007 yards for the Vikings and scored 11 times. He was cut in 1976 at his request so he could start. He went to the Jets, where he had back-to-back 100 yard rushing games, before a knee injury would end his career. He went on to be an actor in Hill Street Blues and Blue Mountain State – he also is a frequent visitor to VikeFans.com.
1973 – JACKIE WALLACE (34th Overall), DB, Arizona, Choice from St. Louis in John Gilliam for Gary Cuozzo trade. Played just one season and 14 overall games for the Vikings, where he was a 7 yard per return punt returner, and had an interception and fumble recovery. He was traded to the Colts, playing two years there and then 2 with the Rams, finishing with 11 career interceptions, 2 of which went for touchdowns.
1979 – DAVE HUFFMAN (43rd overall), C, Notre Dame – Played 12 seasons for the Vikings, but only started 22 of 128 NFL games. He was more of a utility swing lineman, and could play all 5 positions on the line.
1983 – NO CHOICE, traded to Philadelphia for Charlie Johnson. A 9-year NFL Player and 2-time Pro Bowler for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings traded for him to shore-up the middle of their defensive line Charlie started 47 of 51 games he played in Minnesota and recorded an interception and 4 sacks from his Nose Tackle position. VikeFans.com caught up with Charlie at the Super Bowl in Houston this past season, and he says he loved his time in Minnesota and fondly recalls playing with some great players in front of rabid fans.
1994 – DAVID PALMER (40th overall), WR/RB, Alabama. Choice from Atlanta in Chris Doleman trade. – “Duece” or “Double D”. Undersized at 5’8” and only 170 pounds, Palmer was a laser-quick scatback type who was drafted to serve as a runner or receiver as a 3rd down back. He played the same 7 seasons as Pete Bercich, but had just 756 yards combined rushing and receiving in that time. But some of those yards were huge 3rd down conversions. Palmer’s big claim to fame was as a kick and punt returner. He average 10 yards per return on 162 career punt returns, and he would return 145 kicks for 3,274 yards. He scored 3 times on returns in his Viking career.
1998 – KAILEE WONG (51st overall), LB, Stanford – Again, a “need” pick for a Viking team that had little defensive depth at linebacker. Wong became a starter in his second season and would go on to start 40 games as a Viking. He was a hard-hitter with good instincts, but he would tend to get injured from the hard hits. He had 3 interceptions and 5.5 sacks in his Viking career, but bolted for Free Agency offers. When VikeFans.com contacted him in 2014, he said, “I liked it in Minnesota, but the fans were really harsh on our defense, and I wanted a fresh start in Houston”. Wong played 5 seasons for the Texans, and while he started his first 3 years, he never showed any playmaking ability that both the Vikings and Texans had hoped for (no INTS, no fumble recoveries and an average of about 3 sacks and 30 tackles per season)
2000 (1st of 2 picks in round 2) FRED ROBBINS (55th overall ), DT, Wake Forest. Choice from Washington in Brad Johnson trade. A 12-year NFL veteran, his frist 4 were in Minnesota. He became a starter in his 2nd year in Minnesota, but his play was not that noteworthy (58 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and 1 fumble recovery). He left Minnesota for the Giants as he signed a big free agent offer. In New York, he improved and started all 6 seasons, but was a blue collar-type – solid, but not very noticeable. He played his last 2 years in St. Louis, where he had his biggest sack total of his career in 2010, with 6
2006 (1st of 3 picks in round 2) CEDRIC GRIFFIN (48th overall), CB, Texas. Cedric was a 6-year starter in Minnesota and was solid, but not spectacular. He seemed to be around the ball, but could never quite get his hands on it. He had 8 interceptions and a fumble recovery during those 6 seasons, and played 9 final games for the Redskins in 2007, where he did not do much as a bench player.
2006 (2nd of 3 picks in round 2) RYAN COOK (51st overall), C, New Mexico. A swing player (all 5 line positions) who was supposed to be the next Right Tackle. He started quite a bit and was beaten quite a bit. He left Minnesota after 5 seasons, and was a bench player in Miami for 7 games before being cut. He had one decent season in 2012 with the Cowboys, starting 12 games as a center (his natural position that the Vikings really did not try him at) while protecting Tony Romo.
2006 (3rd of 3 picks in round 2) TARVARIS JACKSON (64th overall), QB, Alabama State. Choice from Pittsburgh in exchange of draft picks. He was going to be the next franchise QB in Minnesota. After a rookie season sitting on the bench, he took over for veteran Brad Johnson in the final game of 2006 vs the Rams. He showed glimpses, but mainly, this was a concentrated version of what he would be his entire career. Run too quickly, was robotic in the Brad Childress offense, was a relatively inaccurate passer (58% in a league where most QBs in a west coast offense have a completion percentage over 65%). He started 20 games for the Vikings, throwing 24 TDs and 22 INTs. Just as he looked as if he would turn the corner, he would get injured. The Vikes finally had enough of waiting for him, and brought in aging star Brett Favre to run the team in 2009 and 2010. When Favre did get inured, Tarvaris made it half a game before being injured too. He just was not very durable. His greatest success was as a starter in 2011 in Seattle, and then as a backup in Seattle to Russell Wilson from 2013-2015. Still, his stats were always middling – 15 TDs and 13 INTs for the Seahawks. Tarvaris effectively kicked himself out of the league while he was a free agent in 2016 and likely to be resigned by the Seahawks, he was jailed for domestic abuse, where it was learned that he had lost all the millions he had earned playing football. He was never employed again in the NFL.
2007 – SIDNEY RICE (44th overall), WR, South Carolina. Always in search of a replacement for Randy Moss, the Vikings selected a leaper with similar 6’4” height. But, Rice was mainly a goal line leaper his first two season, until Brett Favre arrived in Minnesota and made Rice his “go-to” guy in 2009. Rice responded with 83 catches for 1,312 yards and 8 scores. The next season, Rice was hurt and got only 280 yards. The Vikings allowed him to leave via free agency, electing not to pay a huge fee for a receiver who was often injured and only had one good season. He signed a huge contract with Seattle, and was never more than average or injured on the field in 3 seasons as a Seahawk, where he averaged 30 catches and 500 yards per expensive season on their payroll.
Too Early to Tell
2016 – MACKENSIE ALEXANDER (54th overall), CB, Clemson. Making just 3 tackles in his rookie year, it is hard to judge Alexander. He seems raw, tentative and guesses on routes. Even as a rookie, he was alarmingly absent from the defensive game plans, even with the rash of injuries the Vikings endured in 2016.