The debate over who the Vikings will take with the eighth pick has been waged for the past couple months. Most analysts are falling on the side of taking a quarterback with the No. 8 pick, but there is some debate over whether one of the top cornerbacks or safeties might be a consideration, or perhaps if someone unexpected slides down the board that most view as being gone by the eighth pick – Kahlil Mack or Sammy Watkins.
But is the eighth pick of the draft a guarantee of success? Far from it. Over the last decade, it could be argued that there are more misses than hits. Whose footsteps are the Vikings following? They haven't been the can't-miss franchise prospects you might think.
2013 – Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis. The Rams traded up to get him, but he didn't have the kind of Percy Harvin-type breakout season that was expected. He caught 40 passes for 418 yards and four touchdowns, ran nine times for 151 yards and a touchdown, returned 18 kicks for 398 yards and 33 punts for 280 yards and a TD. He has a way to go to live up to what the Rams gave up to get him, but he has the potential to live up to the hype that surrounded him.
2012 – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami. He has started all 32 games with the Dolphins, throwing for 7,207 yards with 36 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. While not great numbers, he doubled his TD passes last year (from 12 to 24) and came just 87 yards short of throwing for 4,000. He also has three rushing touchdowns. It may still be too early to proclaim him a draft succees, but he showed a lot of improvement across the board in his second season.
2011 – Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee. In three seasons, he has started just 18 games and has missed time due to injury. In seven games last year, he threw for just 1,256 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating improved from 74.0 in 2012 to 86.7 last year. He is entering a make-or-break season – to the point that some believe the Titans might take a quarterback with the 11th pick in the draft. The jury is still out on him.
2010 – Rolando McClain, LB, Oakland. McClain played only three NFL seasons, starting 38 of 41 career games. He never lived up to his hype. He was out of football in 2013 and attempted a comeback with the Ravens, but announced his retirement April 21, counting him as one of the busts of recent draft vintage.
2009 – Eugene Monroe, OT, Jacksonville. Monroe became a Pro Bowler, but when the Ravens came calling with a trade offer, the Jaguars jumped. This spring, he signed a five-year $38 million deal to stay with the Ravens and set his family up for life after living up to his lofty draft status.
2008 – Derrick Harvey, DE, Jacksonville. Harvey played just three seasons with Jacksonville, recording just eight sacks and having fewer than 20 tackles in two of his three seasons, despite playing in 31 games and starting 16 of them in those two seasons. He spent five games with Denver in 2011 and has been out of football the last two seasons.
2007 – Jamaal Anderson, DE, Atlanta. Taken one pick after Adrian Peterson, Anderson spent four seasons with the Falcons and never lived up to his potential coming out of Alabama. He bounced around from Indianapolis to Cincinnati to Chicago and was among the first cuts in mid-August 2013, essentially ending his career.
2006 – Donte Whitner, S, Buffalo. Whitner spent five productive seasons with Buffalo and spent 2011-13 with the 49ers – starting 47 of 48 games. A big hitter, he only has 10 career interceptions in 10 years, but is an intimidator. This offseason, he signed with the Cleveland Browns.
2005 – Antrel Rolle, CB, Arizona. Entering his 10th season, he has had a long and productive career. He spent five seasons with the Cardinals and the last four with the Giants. Since his rookie season, over the last eight years, he has only missed one game and has been a full-time starter for almost his entire career. He started all 64 possible games with the Giants over the last four seasons.
2004 – DeAngelo Hall, CB, Atlanta. He spent his first four seasons with the Falcons and, after one lost season in Oakland, he has spent the last six seasons with the Redskins. He has started all 64 games he has played and had a career-best two interception returns for touchdowns. He is a borderline Hall of Fame candidate.
While hopes are high among Vikings fans that the eighth pick will turn out to be an overwhelming long-term success, the fact is that, if you look back over the last decade, the most success has come from drafting a defensive back. Will the Vikings follow suit? Or will they follow suit by taking the third quarterback in the last four years? Stay tuned.
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.
Hit-and-miss history of pick No. 8
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