As we get into the Draft Rewind Machine, we go back to the year 2006. The Minnesota Vikings were coming off a season in which they made a lot of headlines – most of them bad. The dominant narrative of the season was the annual rookie party that ran amok, making the phrase “Love Boat” as famous as the launching spot (Al & Alma’s).
Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were going to change the culture of the Vikings and brought in no-nonsense head coach Brad Childress. General Manager Rick Spielman was still a month from being hired. Draft weekend was going to be handled by Childress and Fran Foley, the latter whose demeanor rubbed so many people the wrong way so badly that he was relieved of his duties within days following the draft.
But the one and only draft featuring the humorless duo of Fran and Chilly did a pretty fair job of stocking the shelves for the franchise, even if restricted from taking talented players with pre-draft red flags because the Vikings’ mantra was to clean up its stained image.
Chad Greenway, LB, 1st Round – Although his rookie season would be wiped out in the first quarter of the first preseason game with a torn ACL, Greenway would go on to start 144 of the 156 games he played, dominating his position with the Vikings for a decade before finally announcing his retirement earlier this year.
Cedric Griffin, CB, 2nd Round – Griffin would play six seasons for the Vikings, starting 70 of the 80 games he played. He would be a full-time starter for four of his six seasons before spending his final NFL season with Washington. He provided the Vikings with a steady corner opposite Antoine Winfield and helped set the tone, along with Greenway, in the new-look Vikings defense.
Ryan Cook, C, 2nd Round – One of the first moves Childress made when he took over as head coach was to trade Daunte Culpepper to the Miami Dolphins for a second-round pick. They used that pick on Cook. While he never became a dominant player, over five seasons, he started 40 of the 70 games he played, making starts at right tackle, center and right guard. Perhaps the most interesting footnote to his story was that Miami lured college coach Nick Saban to the NFL and he wanted full control, which led to the ouster of then-General Manager Rick Spielman, who would replace Foley. Not to be forgotten was that when Saban, who took over personnel matters, had the option of trading a second-round pick to the Vikings for an injured Culpepper or trade no picks and sign free agent Drew Brees, Saban chose Pepp. Live and learn.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB, 2nd Round – The Vikings cut a deal with the Steelers to get a third pick in the second round and Chilly said he was going to make the second coming of Donovan McNabb out of T-Jack. It didn’t happen. In five seasons, Jackson started just 20 games, posting a 10-10 record as a starter, but when the Vikings moved on from him when the Childress era ended in 2010, it wasn’t the end of the T-Jack saga. He would go on to play four more years with Seattle and signed a brief contract with Buffalo in the middle that paid him a ton of up-front money, allowing Jackson to stay in the NFL for a decade.
Ray Edwards, DE, 4th Round – Initially viewed as a project with upside, Edwards would become a full-time starter in his second season, being the Fourth Beatle on a defensive line that included Jared Allen and the Williams Wall. He would start 58 of 72 career games with the Vikings over five seasons before signing a lucrative free agent deal with Atlanta, where he would spend his final two seasons.
Greg Blue, S, 5th Round – Blue spent just one season with the Vikings, playing in all 16 games and starting two. He didn't last long, but he brought back the phrase "you were our boy, Blue."
People can say what they want about Childress and most scarcely remember the brief but volatile Foley era in Minnesota, but it’s hard to argue the success of the 2006 draft. Foley tried to sound like the smartest man in the room by using phrases like “player procurement” instead of simply “drafting players” and it was one of the quickest powers struggles to come and go in an NFL franchise. They only had six draft picks and five of them became full-time starters at some point in their careers and gave the Vikings a quiet but formidable draft when stacked up against all the rest of the Minnesota draft classes.