Over the next few weeks leading up to the draft, we're going to take a look at some of the best and the worst draft picks the Vikings have had over the course of their existence. Obviously, for a team that's been around for 50 years, there have been plenty of hits and misses when it comes to draft picks, but while the hits were relatively easy to find, the misses for the Vikings are significantly harder, because they haven't had a whole lot of early picks that have been outright flops. But, like most everything else on our site, these things will be up for debate.
Over the next two weeks, we'll do some of the worst picks the Vikings have come up with, and follow that up in the couple of weeks before the draft with some of the best.
Usually, a lot of the "worst" picks a team can make is when they reach for a player based on what they perceive to be a need. After the 2000 NFL season had ended, running back Robert Smith shocked the Vikings by announcing his retirement, despite only being 28 years old and leading the NFC in rushing. After Smith, the next highest rusher. . .non-quarterback category (since Daunte Culpepper ran for 460 yards). . .was Moe Williams with a blistering 67 yards. So, the Vikings felt that they needed a quarterback, despite the fact that their defense had been woefully exposed in the NFC Championship Game.
So, in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft, the Vikings selected Wisconsin running back Michael Bennett, who was known for his speed more than anything else. Despite all that speed, however, Bennett never really developed into a great back at the NFL level. Yes, he had one season, 2002, where he rushed for 1,296 yards and averaged over 5 yards per carry. However, of those 1,296 yards, 225 of them came on three carries. . .an 85-yarder against Tampa Bay, a 78-yarder against the New York Giants, and a 62-yarder against Green Bay. That made him the only running back in NFL history to have a run of 60 yards or longer in three consecutive games. . .a record that I believe he still holds by himself. However, without those three runs, his yards/carry goes from 5.08 to 4.25, and his season doesn't look nearly as impressive.
And I won't say that Bennett lacked any sort of real vision, but at least one place on the internet that I frequented grew fond of referring to him as "The Human Enema," due to his overwhelming propensity to run directly into the derriere of the lineman in front of him.
Outside of that 2002 season, Bennett never gained more than 682 yards in a season for the Vikings, and only found the end zone 17 times in those five seasons. Bennett was selected to replace Robert Smith, but fell well short of that benchmark.
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