Five years out, you can have a legitimate draft assessment, and to climb into the Wayback Machine, there is little questioning that the 2010 draft may be one of the most productive drafts in NFL history. Of the 255 players drafted, 32 of them have been to at least one Pro Bowl and there are several players that have résumés impressive enough to be on the fast track to the Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately for Vikings fans, 2010 was the year the team was returning 22 starters and conducted a draft most observers believed was selecting for backups and depth players, not swinging for the fences. They should have taken more chances, because the talent never seemed to stop.
Consider the following:
The draft started inauspiciously with the Rams selection of Sam Bradford. Known for being the last player to get obscene money at No. 1, Bradford has been too frail and has missed so much time due to injury. But as the Big 12 dominated the draft (five of the first six picks coming from that conference), the next six teams drafted players who have gone to the Pro Bowl, including defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh (No. 2, Detroit), Gerald McCoy (No. 3, Tampa Bay), offensive tackles Trent Williams (No. 4, Washington) and Russell Okung (No. 6, Seattle), safety Eric Berry (No. 5, Kansas City) and cornerback Joe Haden (No. 7, Cleveland).
It didn’t stop there. Although injuries have sidelined the careers of running backs C.J. Spiller (No. 9, Buffalo) and Ryan Mathews (No. 12, San Diego), when healthy, both have been deadly in terms of big-play ability.
The rest of the first round was an embarrassment of riches, including safety Earl Thomas (No. 14, Seattle), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (No. 15, New York Giants), guard Mike Iupati (No. 17, San Francisco), center Maurkice Pouncey (No. 18, Pittsburgh), linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (No. 19, Atlanta), tight end Jermaine Gresham (No. 21, Cincinnati), wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (No. 22 Denver), OT Bryan Bulaga (No. 23, Green Bay), WR Dez Bryant (No. 24, Dallas), and cornerback Devin McCourty (No. 27, New England).
We intentionally didn’t include Tim Tebow, but did “The Thinker” pose in tribute.
It would be one thing if that was all that draft produced. Look at that list again. It’s insanely good. But, as we’ll find out, it was only the beginning.
The second round was highlighted by Rob Gronkowski (No. 42, New England), who was taken nine picks after the Vikings took Chris Cook. Also taken after the Vikings’ first pick were safeties Nate Allen (No. 37, Philadelphia) and T.J. Ward (No. 38, Cleveland), DE Lamarr Houston (No. 44, Oakland), OT Zane Beadles (No. 45, Denver), current Viking Linval Joseph (No. 46, New York Giants) and linebacker Daryl Washington (No. 47 Arizona).
The Vikings traded up into the second round to take running back Toby Gerhart – much to the dismay of Vikings fans who already knew Adrian Peterson was All-World and didn’t need a second-round backup. After the Vikings used the 51st pick to select Gerhart, before the second round ended future starters would come off the board – DE Jason Worilds (No. 52, Pittsburgh), DT Terrence Cody (No. 57, Baltimore), WR Golden Tate (No. 60, Seattle) and linebacker Brandon Spikes (No. 62, New England).
Not too shabby, but not yet done.
The third round included safety Morgan Burnett (No. 71, Green Bay), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (No. 82, Pittsburgh), WR Eric Decker (No. 87, Denver), LB NaVorro Bowman (No. 91, San Francisco) and some guy named Jimmy Graham (No. 95, New Orleans).
It’s hard to imagine that much talent all came off the board on the same weekend, but it wasn’t over there.
The Vikings showed up late to the party, but landed Everson Griffen with the 100th pick. That was followed up by WR Mike Williams (No. 101, Tampa Bay), CB Alterraun Verner (No. 104, Tennessee), cornerback Walter Thurmond (No. 111, Seattle), disgraced tight end Aaron Hernandez (No. 113, New England), TE Dennis Pitta (No. 114, Baltimore) and defensive tackle Geno Atkins (No. 120, Cincinnati).
The late rounds are often ignored by those are who aren’t hard-core fans (and even some of the hard-cores) because the names are unfamiliar, but they didn’t stay that way for long.
The fifth round saw safety Kam Chancellor (No. 133, Seattle) and wide receiver Riley Cooper (No. 159, Philadelphia). The sixth round was even more impressive with the drafting of Greg Hardy (No. 175, Carolina), defensive end Arthur Moats (No. 178, Buffalo) and WR Antonio Brown (No. 195, Pittsburgh).
When looked upon as a group, one can only imagine the draft re-do the NFL would undertake if given the opportunity to do it again. Perhaps never has so much talent come into the NFL in three days as it did in 2010. With a group that includes Suh, Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, Gronkowski, Graham, Hernandez, Haden, Earl Thomas, Berry, Okung, Griffen, Hardy, Pierre-Paul, Bowman, Verner, Atkins, Pouncey, Sanders, Chancellor and Thurmond has to be viewed as one of the all-time greats.
Unfortunately, the Vikings were heady from their 2009 success and felt all they needed was Griffen to be involved in the 2010 dance party. They didn’t have a first-round pick and both of their second-rounders were gone after the 2013 season. Griffen is all that is left.
Fortunately for those who needed to add starters, it was a harvest that may never been seen again.
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