In this edition Draft Rewind, we turn the clock back to 2007. Unlike recent drafts, where the jury is still out on whether the players drafted will be worth the selections, in the nine years that have passed since, most of their careers have played themselves out. Only the best still remain in the league.
It was a draft that had its stars, it flops and its tragedies. Of the six teams that picked in front of the Vikings, a couple of them – Detroit and Cleveland – had no complaints with how their picks turned out.
The draft got off to an awful start. Not surprisingly, in that era, the Raiders were drafting early … very early. Some speculated that Al Davis would go with Peterson. Instead, he took Jamarcus Russell, who got a six-year, $61 million contract with $32 million guaranteed. He was out of the league in just three years and was best known for introducing an unsuspecting public to the term “Purple Drank.”
The Lions didn’t have any argument. They selected Calvin Johnson. In nine seasons, he was a six-time Pro Bowler and set several NFL records, including the most receiving yards in a season (1,964 in 2012), most consecutive games with 100 receiving yards (eight) and being the fastest to reach 10,000 receiving yards (115 games).
The Browns didn’t have a problem either. With the third pick, they selected offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Despite Cleveland being an awful team during his tenure, Thomas has been named to Pro Bowl in each of his nine seasons and a six-time first-team All-Pro.
Tampa Bay thought it would strike gold with defensive end Gaines Adams. He started the first 32 games of his career in 2007-08, recording 12½ sacks with two forced fumbles and two interceptions. In 2009, he was traded to Chicago for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft, which got traded several times before eventually being used by the Patriots to draft Rob Gronkowski. In 10 games with the Bears in 2009, he had just seven tackles. The trade ended in tragedy as Adams died Jan. 17, 2010 of a previously undiagnosed heart condition.
The two picks in front of the Vikings saw offensive tackle Levi Brown taken by Arizona. Brown played seven seasons with the Cardinals, but never fully lived up to his hype. At No. 6, Washington selected safety LaRon Landry. He ended up playing five years with the Redskins and, while he was a solid player, was never viewed as elite.
The Vikings didn’t waste a lot of time when they were on the clock to take Peterson, who has gone on to re-write every rushing record the Vikings put in front of him. But he was far from alone from being a Pro Bowl player taken in the first round.
It was a round that included not only Pro Bowl players – 17 of the 32 picks were selected to at least one Pro Bowl – but future Hall of Famers. There’s no question that Peterson, Megatron and Thomas will end up in Canton, but the first round also included Patrick Willis (No. 11, San Francisco), Marshawn Lynch (No. 12, Buffalo), Darrelle Revis (No. 14, New York Jets) and Joe Staley (No. 28, San Francisco).
The Vikings struck minor gold in the second round with wide receiver Sidney Rice, who saw his career derailed and shortened by injury. It was a round that saw a couple of perennial Pro Bowlers taken – safety Eric Weddle (No. 37, San Diego) and center Ryan Kalil (No. 59, Carolina), the brother of Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil.
Minnesota made a trade with Tampa Bay that got them the third pick of the fourth round and used it on a football player/discus thrower from Texas named Brian Robison, who, like Peterson, is still with the team almost a decade later.
The draft didn’t produce a lot of stars outside of the first round, but, for Vikings fans, it’s a draft that produced three players – Peterson, Robison and Rice – that had a significant impact on the franchise. Any time you draft a Hall of Fame player, you have to consider it a success and, when their respective careers are done, the Class of 2007 will be remembered as a group that helped stock the Hall of Fame with a handful of busts (the good kind), which is more than most draft classes can boast.