The Minnesota Vikings are currently looking at all their options heading into this week’s draft. They sit with the 23rd pick in the first round, which, when examined over the last decade, has proved to be a pretty decent spot for the Vikings to be picking.
Over the last decade, teams have found themselves success selecting at No. 23, oftentimes drafting a player they assumed would be gone before the draft put them on the clock.
The Vikings are no exception to that sentiment. In 2013, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman claimed he conducted thousands of mock drafts trying to configure all potential scenarios. None of them included defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, whom the Vikings ended up with at No. 23 – turning in their card with plenty of time to spare.
Here are the players who have been selected with the 23rd pick. The group has been dominated by linemen, but, for the most part, they have served the teams well that drafted him.
2015: Shane Ray, DE, Denver Broncos. The Broncos won the Super Bowl on the backs of their defense, and for his rookie season, Ray was used as a rotational player. He played in 14 games as a backup and recorded four sacks. With the losses Denver endured during free agency, more will be expected from Ray this season.
2014: Dee Ford, DE, Kansas City Chiefs. In his first two seasons, Ford has yet to make an impact. He has played in 30 games, starting just five. In 14 games last year, he had 23 tackles and four sacks. But in the Chiefs defense he has been used as an outside linebacker, where Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are hard to get off the field.
2013: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Minnesota Vikings. The pre-draft wisdom was that Floyd would expected to land with Oakland as the third pick, not to Minnesota with the 23rd pick. Over the last two seasons, he has become an important piece in the Vikings defense, starting 23 of 27 games with 76 tackles and seven sacks.
2012: Riley Reiff, OT, Detroit Lions. In four years with the Lions, he has started 55 of 63 games. He has been Detroit’s left tackle, but ideally the Lions would like to move him to the right side. Still, starting 55 games is a pretty good return on investment.
2011: Danny Watkins, G, Philadelphia Eagles. He spent two years with the Eagles, going from a starter as a rookie to a part-time player in 2012 to being waived in 2013. He played one game with Miami before being cut and is now a firefighter in Texas.
2010: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Green Bay Packers. He has become a five-year starter for the Packers, starting the last 60 games he has played. He has been solid, but hasn’t played all 16 games since his rookie season and missed four or more games in three of the last four years.
2009: Michael Oher, OT, Baltimore Ravens. The player depicted in the movie “Blindside,” despite the uneven reviews he has received over his career, he has started all 107 games of his career – starting all 16 every season except 2014. He spent five years with the Ravens, 2014 with Tennessee and last season with Carolina. Like him or not, he has been a seven-year vet with 100+ starts under his belt. Not many get there.
2008: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers. In three seasons as a starter, he ran for 4,300 yards and scored 30 touchdowns, but a knee injury in 2012 during a contract year sent him packing. He played one year with Arizona in 2013 and averaged just 3.2 yards a carry and was out of the league after six seasons.
2007: Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs. Perhaps no player has been paid so much to do so little. In eight years with the Chiefs, he caught 44 touchdowns – 15 in 2010, a combined 16 in the three years prior to that and a combined 13 in the four years after that. He spent 2015 with Cleveland, catching just five passes in seven games.
2006: Davin Joseph, G, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played eight NFL seasons, starting 112 of 116 games. He played 100 games with the Bucs, starting 99 of them, and started 12 of the 13 games he played with the Rams in 2014.
The 23rd pick in the draft doesn’t get the amount of attention the top 10 guys in the draft get, but like just about everywhere players are selected, injuries and outside influences come into play. But, for a position this late in the first round, the success has been quite high. Watkins has been the only bust of the bunch, so, if the Vikings stay here, there is a good chance they’re going to get a player who has a long NFL career.