Best and worst picks in Vikings history

The Vikings, like every franchise, have been blessed with fortunate draft picks and dogged by busts. It's part of what makes the draft so intriguing. We've got the 10 best and worst selections in Vikings history.

One of the problems in the sports media business is that in the era of instant reporting via social media, the "Spoiler Alert" has become part of the game. Hold on to a story for too long and you get scooped.

Some suit at the NFL's official website came up with idea to prolong the story cycle on the league's news dispensary by throwing out the best and worst draft picks for different franchises on a two-a-day basis. The M.O. is to list the five best and five worst draft picks in franchise history. The Vikings are scheduled to be profiled on Thursday. Not so slow, my friend.

In the spirit of journalistic brotherhood – allowing family-related theft when there's a selection that was missed – here is a spoiler alert, a top 10 before the list is released.


Fran Tarkenton (1961, 3rd round, 29th overall) – In the modern day NFL, he would be a very late first-round pick with 32 teams now part of the equation. When he was drafted, every team passed on him twice. The Hall of Fame doesn't include too many third-round quarterbacks. Well done from the first year of the franchise.

Alan Page (1967, 1st round, 15th overall) – A Hall of Famer with the 15th pick? That's expected. The fact Page was the third pick the Vikings made in the draft makes it even more impressive.

Randy Moss (1998, 1st round, 21st overall) – Without his off-field baggage coming into the draft, some scouts speculated Moss would be the first pick. Falling to No. 21 was a gift that kept on giving for the Vikings.

Adrian Peterson (2007, 1st round, 7th overall) – In a draft that started with JaMarcus Russell, A.P. has proved to be the most valuable pick of that draft – a year in which the Vikings also landed Sidney Rice and Brian Robison.

Scott Studwell (1977, 9th round, 250th overall) – A throwaway pick that became a Vikings legend and, 36 years later, is still a key player in the organization.

Matt Birk (1998, 6th round, 173rd overall) – A Harvard man who had hometown ties has put together a career that could have its final stop in Canton.

Brad Johnson (1992, 9th round, 227th overall) – Taken in the final year that the draft had a ninth round, not only did Johnson become a starter, the Vikings eventually traded him to the Redskins and drafted Daunte Culpepper with the pick they got in return.

Terry Allen (1990, 9th round, 241st overall) – He faced long odds coming to the NFL with two surgically repaired knees, but not only became a dependable back, was a 1,000-yard rusher years after the Vikings gave up on him.

Ed McDaniel (1992, 5th round, 125th overall) – An undersized player with a big heart and a lot of determination, he became the quarterback of the Vikings defense and held the title for years.

John Sullivan (2008, 6th round, 187th overall) – It's never easy replacing a legend, but Sully has done a great job after Matt Birk was put out to pasture by the organization.


Dimitrius Underwood (1999, 1st round, 29th overall) – He lasted one practice before he went off the rails, donned his camouflage and left the Vikings high and dry.

Clinton Jones (1967, 1st round, 2nd overall) – In a draft that produced Floyd Little, Page, Gene Upshaw, Bob Griese, Lem Barney and Willie Lanier, Jones was the second pick of the draft and a huge disappointment for his career.

Jack Snow (1965, 1st round, 8th overall – Snow wasn't a bad wide receiver, but seeing that he never signed with the Vikings, he was a wasted pick that could have been of use elsewhere.

Derrick Alexander (1995, 1st round, 11th overall) – With Warren Sapp waiting for the Vikings' selection 10 picks after most thought he should be drafted, the Vikings took a defensive lineman, but it was D.A. (pronounced "duh!").

Troy Williamson (2005, 1st round, 7th overall) – A pick received from Oakland for Randy Moss, Williamson's career never let Vikings fans forget the trade that sent No. 84 out of town.

D.J. Dozier (1987, 1st round, 14th overall) – The Vikings have had a spotty history of drafting running backs, but Dozier's epic lack of production set the standard for running back busts.

The Gang of Three (1981) – The Vikings tried to get cute, trading out of the first round for two second-round picks that gave them three in the round. They used those three picks on WR Mardye McDole,, LB Robin Sendlein and RB Jarvis Redwine – none of whom ever became anything for the Vikings.

Erasmus James (2005, 1st round, 18th overall) – Eleven picks after taking Williamson, the Vikings doubled down on another awful pick on a player who got more press for being soft than being hard for offensive linemen to handle.

Darrin Nelson (1977, 1st round, 7th overall) – A soft, high-pitched running back who didn't want to play in Minnesota because it didn't have any discos, fans still haven't forgiven him for "The Drop" in the playoffs.

Tyrell Johnson (2008, 2nd round, 43rd overall) – What made his selection so hideous was that he was the only pick the Vikings had in the first 136 selections, so his deficiencies stood out even more. He was athletic but never lived up to the promise.

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.

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