2005: The dirty, rotten draft

Every draft has its share of would-haves, could-haves and should-haves, but the 2005 draft was painful for many teams. No team may have been more adversely affected that year than the Vikings.

With all the technology at their disposal and their clear understanding of the pro game, head coaches, scouts and general managers are still extremely hit and miss when it comes to drafting. Each year, they're convinced they've added players that will help them win a championship, but, for the most part, there are more players that never pan out than become stars.

As always, hindsight in such matters is 20/20. It's easy to say now that the Vikings or any other team should have gone in this direction or that direction. When the Packers took Tony Mandarich with the second pick of the 1989 draft, they were convinced he would be a star. Not only wasn't he the answer, but it didn't help that the next three picks in that draft were Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders. It's a roll of the dice that comes up snake eyes just as often as a seven or eleven.

Perhaps no draft in recent history has had more flops than the 2005 draft. A draft that started with 49ers QB Alex Smith was dotted with big-time failures, including RB Cedric Benson (No. 4), RB Cadillac Williams (No. 5), CB Pacman Jones (No. 6), CB Carlos Rogers (No. 9), WR Mike Williams (No. 10), DT Travis Johnson (No. 16), LB David Pollack (No. 17), OT Alex Barron (No. 19) and WR Matt Jones (No. 21). The draft featured few stars at the top, but plenty in the middle to later rounds.

In a year filled with busts, the Vikings had arguably their worst draft in more than a decade in 2005. Although it was only four years ago, no players remain from that team. The last man standing at the end of the season was offensive tackle Marcus Johnson, who has been in the NFL's version of the Witness Protection Program the last two years and is now a free agent that the Vikings have shown no interest in retaining. Complicating matters was that the Vikings had two first-round picks thanks to getting the seventh overall pick from the Raiders in exchange for Randy Moss. At the time, people like me were imploring the team not to take a wide receiver like Mike Williams with the seventh pick – not even considering that they had one-trick pony Troy Williamson in mind. The pressure to be viewed as Moss' replacement would be too great. In our mock draft, I had the Vikings going defense and touted the potential of DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman, who went 11th and 12th respectively. With hindsight as our guide, let's take a look back at the sad draft harvest of rotten tomatoes.

Troy Williamson (No. 7 overall) – One of the biggest draft busts in franchise history, Williamson never lived up to the hype the Vikings put on him. Had the Vikings waited until their second first-round pick, they could have chosen between Mark Clayton (No. 22), Roddy White (No. 27), Reggie Brown (No. 35) or Vincent Jackson (No. 61).

Erasmus James (No. 18) – What makes this pick so painful was that the team could have waited a long time for a DE and ended up with Justin Tuck (No. 74) or Chris Canty (No. 189). James had an injury-plagued career that wasn't that good even when he was healthy.

Marcus Johnson (No. 49) – While there weren't many star offensive linemen in this class, the Vikings likely would have been much better served with guys like Nick Kaczur (No. 100), Todd Heremanns (No. 126) or Geoff Hangartner (No. 169) and wouldn't have burned a second-round pick to get him.

Dustin Fox (No. 80) – The Vikings liked the d-back from Ohio State, but could have waited three rounds and got Gerald Sensabaugh (No. 157). Fox has bounced around the league, but never did a thing with the Vikings.

Ciatrick Fason (No. 112) – What makes this pick so painful is the running backs that went immediately in front of him – Marion Barber at No. 109 and Brandon Jacobs at No. 110. Fason did nothing of note, while those two and Darren Sproles (No. 130) have all cashed in with big-money contracts.

C.J. Mosley (No. 191) – Think you can't find a star this late? Don't say that to the Cowboys, who found a much more dominant defensive tackle in Jay Ratliff with the 224th pick.

For a lot of franchises, the 2005 draft is one of the darkest times in their selection history. Very few teams came up with a draft bonanza, although the Cowboys and Chargers hit the lottery that year. For the Vikings, it was the worst of times and an episode fans hope never will be repeated again. With as much information as teams have at their disposal, the draft is still far from an exact science. 2005 serves as the poster child for that conclusion.

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