So with the combine winding down and two weeks until free agency, I thought it might be kind of fun to do an all time Vikings draft. So over the next week or so, what we're going to do is look at some of the more notable players that the Vikings have ever drafted in each round, give you a little bit of info about them, and then we'll decide as a community what our all time Vikings draft class will be.
I started looking at this a little bit last night, and the first round is going to be a bear. A grizzly bear. A grizzly bear with teeth and claws. And it's not going to get much easier after that. So get your GM caps on and look over the scouting reports, because Daily Norseman...YOU'RE ON THE CLOCK! Each former pick will be listed, followed by the year in which the Vikings drafted them in chronological order.
WIth the the first pick in the Minnesota Vikings All Time Draft, your list of candidates are:
Carl Eller, 1964: Carl Eller was an All American out of the University of Minnesota, and was a first round draft pick by not only the Vikings, but also by the Buffalo Bills of the AFL. He went on to anchor the Purple People Eaters until 1978, played in four Super Bowls, was a first or second team All Pro from 1967-1973, and at the end of his career, from 1975-77, he recorded 44 sacks. Eller was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Alan Page, 1967: The Vikings had three first round picks in 1967, and they used the last of those to draft Page, a fierce defensive tackle that was one of the most disruptive interior linemen in NFL history. His playing weight was a ridiculous 225-235 pounds...as a defensive tackle, but he was lightning quick, and you'll see many an old highlight reel where Page is in the backfield almost as fast as the center can snap the ball back to the quarterback. He was the first defensive player to win the NFL MVP award, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.
Ron Yary, 1968: If there was a key to the success of the Vikings in the late 1960's and '70's, it's because of the remarkable players they had on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Purple People Eaters get most of the press between the two units, but Ron Yary was just as good a tackle that has ever played. He won the starting RT job in his second year and stayed there until 1981. He was an All-Pro from 1970-1977, played in four Super Bowls, and only missed two games in his entire career. Yary was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001.
Chuck Foreman, 1973: Foreman was one of the most electric players to ever play for the Vikings, but he was also a bulldog that was able to run between the tackles for tough yards. He was the NFL rookie of the year in 1973, and became a key component in the early version of the West Coast offense that Jerry Burns introduced into the NFL. Foreman set NFL records for receptions by a running back in 1975 with 73, ran for 13 TD's, and caught another 9 more. He ran for over 1,000 yards from 1975-1977 during the 14 game era when 1,000 yards really meant something. Had knee injuries not cut his career short, his career path could have very well landed him in Canton.
'Two Minute' Tommy Kramer, 1977: Why did I love Tommy Kramer? Because in every post game interview he ever did he had the biggest dip a man could get in his lower lip, spit into a cup, and tell everyone that he 'just took wut the defense gave us'. He was maddeningly inconsistent and streaky, but when he was on, oh...my...Lord. He had a knack for driving the field to win in the last two minutes of the game, but the reason he had to do that is because he threw three picks in the first 58 minutes that caused the Vikes to be down by 6 in the first place. Still love the guy, though.
Joey Browner, 1983: Remember when the Vikings had a secondary that was feared and respected? You don't? That's too bad, because Joey Browner was one of the main reasons. From 1987 until about 1990, Browner was considered in the same breath as Ronnie Lott as among the best safeties in the league. Browner hit like a truck, could intercept a pass, finishing with 37 career picks, and had the coolest facemask ever. I tried to get that facemask when I played in high school, but we didn't have it. I was going to put the year he was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor here, but stunningly, he hasn't been. That needs to change.
Chris Doleman, 1985: If ever the word 'beast' fit a guy, it's Doleman. He was strong, fast off the edge, the complete package for a defensive end. Until late last year he held the Vikings single season sack record, and was the rush end tandem with Keith Millard, probably the best tackle-end combo in team history, at least for a two or three year period in the late 1980's. In 1989, the year Dleman had his 21 sacks, Millard had 18. Holy and crap. But even after Millard got hurt, Doleman was still a force, ending up with 150.5 sacks, fourth all time. He was elected to the Hall of Fame just a few weeks ago.
Randall McDaniel, 1988: McDaniel was a flat out stud from the moment he came into the league, setting an NFL record by going to 12 straight Pro Bowls. He started 202 consecutive games, and was an instrumental part in Robert Smith becoming the all time Vikings rusher. He was never a 'look at me' guy, and I was lucky enough to interview him in 2010--very personable, good guy. But on the field, he'd kick your ass for 60 minutes. McDaniel was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Randy Moss, 1998: For some of you younger fans, Moss is probably your initial choice, and I although the 'get off my lawn' old guy in me usually shakes his head at the impudence of youth, I would have a hard time faulting you for picking him over Hall of Famers Eller, Yary, McDaniel, and Doleman. Moss was a pain in the ass off the field, but was something close to poetry on it. His athleticism, speed, hands, and ability to stay in bounds would be hard to believe if I didn't witness what he did with my own eyes. If ever the total athletic package played wide receiver, it was in the form of Randy Moss, and you have to think that he will end up in Canton one day.
Daunte Culpepper, 1999: Daunte Culpepper lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship game in his first year as a starter in 2000, had an MVP caliber season in 2004 while leading the Vikings to an upset victory over Green Bay in Lambeau during the playoffs, and is probably considered one of the top two or three quarterbacks in team history. But Culpepper had a fair amount of critics while in Minnesota--he fumbled too much, he threw too many picks, whatever. I thought DC was a good quarterback while he was here, and had that ghastly knee injury in Carolina not happened, he might have set every team passing record there is.
Kevin Williams, 2003: Williams has been a force on the Vikings interior line for a decade, and formed one half of the Williams Wall, along with DT Pat Williams. That wall was almost impossible to run against for about four years, and Williams has been one of the best interior pass rushers in the league from almost the moment he was drafted. He is still going strong in 2012, and will receive strong consideration from the folks at Canton when his playing days are done.
Adrian Peterson, 2007: If Randy Moss was a receiving poet, Peterson is speed metal rock. He reminds me in so many ways of Walter Payton--violent at the point of attack, but fast enough to slip outside and outrun everyone. He has a second gear (and hopefully will again) that makes him difficult to catch from behind, and had it not been for his late season knee injury, would have had well over 1,000 yards in his first five seasons. He's just a handful of yards behind Robert Smith as the team's all time rushing leader, and has 64 rushing TD's in his career.
So, there you have it. Who are you going to pick? You have multiple Hall of Famers, stalwarts on both lines, good quarterbacks, a receiver, and a running back you could all build your team around.