With the Vikings sitting with the No. 3 pick in this month's draft, the conventional wisdom is that they will acquire a "can't miss" style of superstar talent with Pro Bowl potential.
But, is that always the case? Yes and no. The good news is that, if the Vikings take offensive tackle Matt Kalil, history tells us the odds of landing a potential Pro Bowl talent goes up markedly.
Since 2000, the No. 3 pick has been used on only five positions: quarterback (3), wide receiver (3), offensive tackle (2), defensive end (2) and defensive tackle (2).
To get a better handle on it, these are the year-by-year No. 3 picks since 2000 and who selected them – the fact that three of them have been taken by the Cleveland Browns and they're picking fourth this year speaks volumes to the ineptitude of that franchise.
2011 – Marcel Dareus, DE, Buffalo
2010 – Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay
2009 – Tyson Jackson, DE, Kansas City
2008 – Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta
2007 – Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland
2006 – Vince Young, QB, Tennessee
2005 – Braylon Edwards, WR, Cleveland
2004 – Larry Fitzgerland, WR, Arizona
2003 – Andre Johnson, WR, Houston
2002 – Joey Harrington, QB, Detroit
2001 – Gerard Warren, DT, Cleveland
2000 – Chris Samuels, OT, Washington
The term "bust" can only be applied to Harrington and, to a lesser degree, Young and Warren. The breakdown by position speaks to the ability available at No. 3, regardless of the position.
Quarterback – Ryan is viewed as one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFC and Young made it to a Pro Bowl before his immaturity and questionable decisions off the field led to his banishment from Tennessee. Harrington went from third to turd – plain and simple. But, it should be noted that Matt Millen made that pick and his penchant for rolling box cars at the dice table is legendary. Not a slam dunk, but Pro Bowlers for two of three picks isn't bad.
Wide Receiver – Fitzgerald is the gold standard of wide receivers and, when healthy Andre 3000 is a beast who can dominate games. Edwards was a diva throughout his career, but it was chronic injuries that prevented him from living up to his potential. Two of the three have been consistently dominant and re-signed long-term. The other had one of the most prolific scoring seasons in NFL history before his body betrayed him. As solid as it gets from the draft perspective.
Defensive End – It's too soon to pass judgment on these two since they were made in 2009 and 2011, but Jackson showed considerable improvement in his third season and Dareus was Buffalo's top D-lineman last year, starting the season at DE and moving inside to nose tackle when injuries forced him to move for the sake of the team. It's still early, but no complaints from either the Bills or Chiefs.
Defensive Tackle – McCoy has an incomplete grade, since he has seen both of his first two seasons cut short due to injury. If he can come back strong, he can still reclaim his position as a blue chip tackle. But, until that happens, he's a big question mark. Warren has played 11 years and finally found his niche in New England. He didn't do much for the team that drafted him, but anyone who plays defensive line for 11 years has to be viewed as a success.
Offensive tackle – Saving the best for last. Only two left tackles have been taken with the No. 3 pick since 2000 – Samuels in 2000 and Thomas in 2007. Samuels played for 10 seasons and was a Pro Bowl left tackle six times. Had the Redskins won a Super Bowl during his playing career, he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame. However, being a six-time Pro Bowl pick at left tackle might a solid enough resume to get in the Hall regardless. Thomas has been a Pro Bowl left tackle in all five of his seasons, which is saying something considering how awful the Browns have been in those five seasons. He is a lock to make the Hall of Fame even if his career were to end tomorrow.
What do the numbers tell us? As long as Matt Millen isn't making the pick or the pick isn't a "head case," the history of picking at No. 3 over the last decade-plus has been a ticket to success. It can be argued that half of the players taken with the third pick from 2000-07 are Hall of Famers and both of the offensive tackles taken there are strong candidates for Canton.
Our researchers are taking off their lab coats. Their diagnosis? Stay at No. 3 and take Kalil.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings' No. 3 a proven spot since 2000
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