The Vikings' Rise to Power

How did Minnesota pass Green Bay in the NFC North? Well, it has nothing to do with Brett Favre. Look no further than the first- through third-round draft picks during the last four seasons.

Publisher's note: An alert observer pointed out that the Vikings did not hire Rick Spielman until a month after the 2006 draft. That only reinforces the premise of the story, since he can't be blamed for trading two third-round picks to move into the second to select Tarvaris Jackson. Anyway, thanks to Mark.

The balance of power in the NFC North shifted when the Vikings hired Rick Spielman to make their personnel decisions in 2006. Since then, the Packers are 38-26 with one NFC North title, a wild-card berth and a trip to the NFC title game. The Vikings are 36-28 with two NFC North titles, no wild-card berths and a trip to the NFC title game.

What's been the difference? Compare the teams' first- through third-round picks.


Packers: 1st — OT Bryan Bulaga (23); 2nd — DE Mike Neal (56); 3rd — S Morgan Burnett (71).

Vikings: 1st — Traded to Lions to get pick No. 34; 2nd — CB Chris Cook (34), RB Toby Gerhart (51); 3rd — Traded to Texans to get pick No. 51.

Advantage: Too early to tell, of course, but the Vikings figure to get more immediate bang for their buck.


Packers: 1st — NT B.J. Raji (9); OLB Clay Matthews III (26); 2nd — Traded to Patriots to get pick No. 26; 3rd — Traded to Patriots to get pick No. 26.

Vikings: 1st — WR/RB Percy Harvin (22); 2nd — OT Phil Loadholt (54); 3rd — Asher Allen (86).

Advantage: Draw for now. Who becomes a key figure first? Allen or Packers versatile fourth-rounder T.J. Lang?


Packers: 1st — Traded to Jets to get pick No. 36; 2nd — WR Jordy Nelson (36), QB Brian Brohm (56), CB Pat Lee (60); 3rd — TE Jermichael Finley (91).

Vikings: 1st — Traded to Chiefs for Jared Allen; 2nd — S Tyrell Johnson (43); 3rd — Traded for Allen.

Advantage: Vikings. Allen is one of the most dominating defensive players in the NFL. For all of Brett Favre's theatrics in the two matchups against Green Bay, it was Allen's 7.5 sacks in those games that made the biggest difference. Finley, however, has a chance to become the best tight end in the NFL, and fourth-round guard Josh Sitton helps close the gap, too.


Packers: 1st — DE Justin Harrell (16); 2nd — RB Brandon Jackson (63); 3rd — WR James Jones (78), S Aaron Rouse (89).

Vikings: 2007: 1st — RB Adrian Peterson (7); 2nd — WR Sidney Rice (44); 3rd — CB Marcus McCauley (72).

Advantage: Vikings by a landslide. This draft is the No. 1 reason why the Vikings caught and passed the Packers. No further analysis is necessary.


Packers: 1st — LB A.J. Hawk (5); 2nd — G Daryn Colledge (47), WR Greg Jennings (52); 3rd — LB Abdul Hodge (67); G/C Jason Spitz (75).

Vikings: 2006: 1st — LB Chad Greenway (17); 2nd — CB Cedric Griffin (48), C Ryan Cook (51), QB Tarvaris Jackson (64); 3rd — Two third-round picks traded to move up to select Jackson.

Advantage: Vikings. Jennings is a phenomenal talent, but Greenway is better than Hawk and Griffin was an above-average starting corner until tearing up his knee last season. Colledge, Spitz and Cook have been decent starting offensive linemen. While Minnesota got defensive end Ray Edwards in the fourth round, the Packers got defensive end Johnny Jolly in the sixth.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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