I've done a comprehensive, round by round study of the Vikings drafts over a 20 year period from 1986 to 2005. I am willing to stipulate that the last few drafts, excluding this year, have been better, although not free of errors like using a 2nd round draft choice on Tavaris Jackson. I am not willing to concede that the 2011 draft has been a success simply because none of the players have been on the field for a single NFL play.
First round draft choices are simply the lifeblood of an NFL team. I could not find the article to cite it, but I read an article online which illustrated how 60% of first round choices make significant impacts on their team's future and overwhelmingly become Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers more than any other round. After the jump, I'll recap the Minnesota Vikings franchise history of screwing up the NFL draft.
I went back and reviewed every draft choice from 1986 - 2005 in my research. Many players that were chosen in the later rounds were people I had never even heard of. If the 1st round pick had a career less than 5 years for the team, or did nothing notable, they are considered a failure. We're expecting significant impact or a long playing career from a first round choice.
1986 - Gerald Robinson was the 1st round choice. The draft was not a total waste as the team picked up Hassan Jones in the 5th round and Jesse Solomon in the 12th round.
1987 - DJ Dozier who simply didn't live up to expectations. Rest of draft was solid.
1989 - No pick (Mike Merriweather trade - who was on the downside of his career), entire draft was utterly forgettable.
1990 - Walker trade which as we know was a debacle. Terry Allen was discovered in the 9th round.
1991 - No pick again due to the Walker trade. Todd Scott was picked in the 6th.
1992 - No pick (Walker trade). Ed McDaniel in the 5th and Brad Johnson in the 9th.
1993 - Was not a 1st round choice, but the team cut Gilbert Brown in training camp. Brown went on to a long NFL career with the Packers.
1995 - Derrick Alexander.
1996 - Duane Clemons.
1999 - Dimitrius Underwood.
2001 - Michael Bennett. Had one good year before he couldn't run 3 yards without fumbling or being injured.
2003 - Not a failure, but the Vikings embarrassingly missed the deadline to turn in their draft card. Luckily it worked out for the best as they ended up selecting Kevin Williams.
2004 - Kenechi Udeze. No fault of Udeze's due to illness.
2005 - Troy Williamson. Vision might be an important tool for a receiver to possess.
2005 - Erasmus James.
13 out of 20 drafts resulted in horrible picks or no picks due to one of the worst trades in NFL history, not to mention the hiring of one of the worst coaches in NFL history (Les Steckel) around the same time. But I'm just calling it like I see it.