11 years of 11th pick shows big talents

The Vikings’ 11th pick has produced some impressive talents over the last 11 years. What will the Vikings do with it?

For much of the draft process, I have been convinced that the Vikings are going to trade back from the 11th pick. It’s a theory based more on the value of the 11th pick. But, upon further review, the Vikings might be advised to keep their pick at No. 11 because the track record of that pick has been a little too solid to ignore.

From 2004 to 2014, it has been a ripe harvest of picks at No. 11. Each came into his respective draft with his supporters and detractors – the Mel Kiper types that puff up and blow down prospects without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

We have that technology after the fact. What do the numbers tell us? No. 11 ain’t too bad and, if nothing else, the trade value out of that spot should exceed the Draft Value Chart by more than a little bit.

Consider what has happened since 2004 with the 11th pick.

2014 – The Tennessee Titans took offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. He played in 11 games, starting six. Perhaps the more interesting picks were the two that followed – wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. by the Giants and DT Aaron Donald by the Rams. Both of them represented the NFC in the Pro Bowl.

2013 – The Chargers took offensive tackle D.J. Fluker. He has started all 31 games he has played for San Diego. Once again, the 13th pick seemed lucky, as the Jets landed Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson with that pick.

2012 – The Kansas City Chiefs drafted nose tackle Dontari Poe. In three seasons, he has started all 47 games he has played and has become a Pro Bowl player.

2011 – In a draft where quarterbacks were flying off the board with limited to no success beyond first pick Cam Newton, the Houston Texans used the No. 11 pick to take Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt, who has become the dominant defensive player in the NFL.

2010 – San Francisco selected offensive tackle Anthony Davis, who has started all 71 games of his career. He was limited to seven games last year, but, prior to that, he had stated all 64 games his team played.

2009 – Buffalo took defensive end Aaron Maybin with the 11th pick and he was the biggest swing at miss at No. 11 in recent years – it happens. In four seasons, two with Buffalo and two with the Jets, he played 48 games, starting one and finishing his career with 36 tackles and six sacks. Once again, No. 13 seemed to be the charm, as the Redskins landed Brian Orakpo, who went on to become a star.

2008 – The Bills took cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who was never a supreme talent but has spent seven seasons with Buffalo and has put together a career that will have him getting dinner checks comped at high-end local restaurants as long as he stays in Buffalo. Not too shabby.

2007 – In a draft that started with JaMarcus Russell, the next 13 picks were epic, including Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Joe Thomas and Marshawn Lynch – all likely Hall of Famers. Tucked in at No. 11? A linebacker going by the name of Patrick Willis. If dominance during the time he played stands for anything, he is likely another H.O.F. candidate.

2006 – No. 11 was a God-send for Denver. They were looking for a quarterback, but before the draft got to them two quarterbacks with the “can’t miss” tag had been taken before them – trivia answers Vince Young and Matt Leinart. At No. 11, Denver took Jay Cutler. Say what you want about his imitation of Droopy on the sidelines, he’s the best of the three without debate.

2005 – The same year the Vikings had the seventh pick and took visually-challenged wide receiver Troy Williamson, the No. 11 pick went to Jerry Jones. He had a liking to some kid named DeMarcus Ware out of Troy University. Nice call, Jerrah!

2004 – This draft was ruled by Archie Manning, who said there was no way his baby boy was going to play with the ratty San Diego Chargers. It was the big stink of the entire draft. A deal was cut that San Diego took a “fake smile” photo of Manning holding up his Chargers jersey knowing they were going to cut a deal with the Giants to bring a more-willing Philip Rivers to keep San Diego classy. At the 11th pick, the Steelers stood pat and took a quarterback from Miami. Not that Miami. The one in Ohio. Ben Roethlisberger is still doing his thing in Steeltown.

There is still a “hair on the back of the neck” feeling that can’t be rationally explained that has me convinced the Vikings aren’t going to pick at No. 11. God forbid Marcus Mariota is still around. There are too many reasons to believe the 11th pick is going to be of significant value to teams that have yet to make a selection.

To those teams, the 11th pick is coveted. For that same reason, the Vikings may want to stick-and-pick if a player they feel strongly about is there.

History doesn’t lie. It informs.

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