Vikings have had success in No. 11 pick range

The Vikings have had two picks at No. 11 and seven other players within two picks of No. 11. Those have produced several Pro Bowl players and some of the top talents at their positions in franchise history.

The Minnesota Vikings hold the No. 11 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. Since the team’s first draft in 1961, the Vikings have had the No. 11 pick just two other times. The results of those two picks had two vastly different outcomes.

The first time the Vikings had the No. 11 pick was in 1995, when they chose to draft defensive end Derrick Alexander out of Florida State. Alexander played for the Vikings from 1995-98 and then for the Cleveland Browns in 1999. In the 57 games he played with the Vikings, he started 51 of them. During that time, he recorded five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 17½ sacks, and 175 tackles.

This was a pick that many Vikings fans look back on and cringe, especially since future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp was still available. The pick may have been a little easier on fans if Alexander performed at a higher standard, but throughout his career he was average at best.

The other No. 11 pick that the Vikings possessed was in the 1999 draft, when they drafted quarterback Daunte Culpepper out of Central Florida. This pick turned out much better than the Alexander one because Culpepper was able to solidify the quarterback position for several years while wearing a Vikings uniform.

Culpepper played 11 years in the NFL, seven of which were spent in Minnesota. During his time with the Vikings, he completed 1,678 of 2,607 pass attempts for 20,162 yards, 135 touchdowns and 86 interceptions. Culpepper is currently the Vikings leader in career completion percentage, is third in career yardage and third in career passing touchdowns.

There is a possibility that Culpepper could have gone down as the best quarterback in Vikings history, but he injured his knee during the 2005 season and was never the same after that.

Along with those two players, the Vikings have also had seven other picks between the ninth and 13th picks in the draft. The first player the team drafted in this range was linebacker Jeff Siemon, picked No. 10 overall in 1972.

Siemon held down the middle linebacker position for the Vikings over the course of his career and helped lead the team to three Super Bowls. He spent the entirety of his career in Minnesota. From the time he was drafted out of Stanford in 1972 until he retired after the 1982 season. His 1,382 tackles are the third-most among Vikings defenders. Siemon was known for his speed and savvy, and his play on the field ultimately led to him being named to four Pro Bowls.

The year after drafting Siemon, the Vikings were able to take another one of the franchise’s top players, Chuck Foreman, with the No. 12 pick of the 1973 draft. Foreman spent seven years of his career playing for the Vikings and spent the final season of his career in New England. He was the franchise leader in rushing yards with 5,887 yards after his final season with the team in 1979. That record would hold until 2000, when Robert Smith passed him and ended his career with 6,818 yards.

Foreman was able to haul in numerous accolades during his time in Minnesota, including the 1973 NFC Rookie of the Year, the 1974 and 1976 NFC Player of the Year, and he was named an All-Pro in 1975 and he was named to five consecutives Pro Bowls (1973-77).

After the Vikings drafted Foreman in 1973, they had a run of success over the next seven years but didn’t have any more picks between No. 9 and 13 until 1980. It was then that they drafted defensive end Doug Martin with the No. 9 overall pick.

Martin played in the NFL for 10 years and spent every one of those years playing for the Vikings. The Vikings have had plenty of elite defensive linemen throughout their history, so it is hard to rank Martin in the same category as them. He had a solid career, though, totaling 50½ sacks. That includes a 1982 season when he recorded 11½ sacks and a 1983 season when he recorded 13 sacks. In the 126 games Martin played with the Vikings, he started 94 of them.

Four years after drafting Martin, the Vikings selected another defensive lineman in Keith Millard with the No. 13 overall pick of the 1984 draft. Millard was a defensive tackle that played nine years in the NFL and seven years with the Vikings.

He was a dominating force on the interior of the Vikings’ defensive line and currently holds the NFL record for most sacks in a single season by a defensive tackle with 18. He set that record in 1989 and was also named as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year that same season.

Unfortunately for Millard, he suffered season-ending knee injury in 1990. Even though he was able to recover and play a few more years in the NFL, he was never the same dominating player. He ended his career with 58 sacks, 53 of which he recorded in a Vikings uniform.

The next two players the Vikings selected in the range of No. 9 through 13 were Alexander and Culpepper. After them came the selection of one of the better Vikings in recent memory, defensive tackle Kevin Williams. He was drafted in 2003 with the No. 9 overall pick.

Williams spent the first 11 seasons of his career in Minnesota. In that time, he played in 171 games and recorded 463 tackles, 60 sacks, seven forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, five interceptions and four touchdowns.

During his time in Minnesota, Williams was named to six Pro Bowls (2004, 2006-10) and was named a First-Team All-Pro five times (2004, 2006-09). He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

In 2011, the Vikings drafted another quarterback, but this time at No. 12 overall. After multiple quarterbacks came off the board before their pick, the Vikings decided to select Christian Ponder from Florida State. Ponder played in 38 games and recorded 632 completions on 1,057 attempts for 6,658 yards, 38 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. His best season came in 2012, when he helped lead the Vikings to the playoffs, but his success during the season was helped by the MVP season running back Adrian Peterson had.

Ponder had a very inconsistent career while in Minnesota and it ultimately led to him losing his starting position to Matt Cassel and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in 2014, and then moving on and joining the Oakland Raiders in March.

The final pick that the Vikings had in the range Viking Update is looking at was Anthony Barr, who was drafted No. 9 overall in 2014. The Vikings originally had the No. 8 pick of the draft and likely would have drafted Barr there, but they were able to trade back one spot in order to acquire more draft picks. Having just finished his rookie season, it is still a little too early to how good this pick will turn out for the Vikings, but he seems to be on the right track. In his rookie season Barr was able to record 70 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one touchdown in 12 games.

Barr was performing at a high level and was one of the top defensive rookies in the NFL, but his season was cut short. He was placed on injured reserve in Week 13 with a knee injury. Barr should continue to be an important part of head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense moving forward.

There have been a couple picks that the Vikings franchise surely wishes they could have back when drafting between No. 9 and 13, but for the most part this has been a good area for the Vikings. These picks have produced multiple players that have been able to make large impacts for the Vikings.

Whether 2015 can produce the same type of player for the Vikings has yet to be seen, but there should still be plenty of talent available for the Vikings to pick from.

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