As our all time draft moves from round one to round two, a couple things become apparent for me: the amount of first round picks that turned out to be great, great players for the Vikings was really an impressive list. And although we don't have that kind of depth or quality in the second round, primarily because of a drought of talent in the 1980's, there are still some really good players to choose from. And unlike the first round, where most of the picks were from years gone by, most of the quality guys in the second round are from more current times, so this could be interesting.
Bobby Bell, LB, 1963: "But Ted," you say, "Bobby Bell never played a down for the Vikings, he played for the Chiefs," And you'd be right. Bell was drafted by the Vikings in the NFL Draft and the Chiefs in the AFL draft. Kansas City was so sure he'd sign with the Vikings that they didn't even draft him until the 7th round. But the University of Minnesota All American stunned everyone when he chose Kansas City, and went on to have a Hall of Fame career. Bell was almost a hybrid DE-LB, and was all-AFL every year from 1965-1971. I can only imagine what Bell in purple would have been like.
Lance Rentzel, WR, 1965: Rentzel is another guy that was drafted by the Vikings but made his name elsewhere, most notably in Dallas. He only lasted two seasons as a kick and punt returner as a Viking, but blossomed as a sure hands receiver for the Cowboys, hitting his peak from 1967-69. He had over 900 yards twice in that time span, and went over 1,000 yards in 1968, and lead the NFL in TD's (12) and yards per catch (22.3) that year as well. He was kind of a Steve Largent-type guy--not real fast, but great hands and a precise route runner.
Ed White, G, 1969: You know, as the years go by and the Vikings teams from the 70's pass from memory into almost folklore for many fans, it's tough to appreciate that the offensive line from that era was just as good as the Purple People Eaters defensive line, and how durable just about everybody was on both sides of the line were. White was one of those guys, playing from 1969-1985, but left the Vikings for San Diego after the 1977 season. He went to four Pro Bowls, three straight with the Vikings from 1975-1977, and when he retired no one had played more games as an offensive lineman in NFL history, and only missed 10 games as a starter in his tenure with Minnesota.Matt Blair, LB, 1974: Matt Blair was a really athletic linebacker that gets overlooked for his talent, as his 6 straight Pro Bowl years (1977-1982) were as the Vikings were transitioning from the glory years of the Super Bowl teams to one of relative mediocrity. Still, Blair was exceptional at both run support and pass defense, and had a knack for blocking kicks that was almost uncanny.
Sammy White, WR, 1976: White burst onto the scene in 1976 earning Pro Bowl berths in his first two seasons as well as NFL and AP Rookie of the Year in '76. He was the Randy Moss of the Vikings then, but without the off the field issues. He was a fast, deep threat that complimented the possession skills of Ahmad Rashad, and gave the Vikes passing game a shot in the arm that had been missing since John Gilliam left. Surprisingly, he only had one 1,000 yard receiving season, it just seemed like he had more to me. Unfortunately, he'll be forever known as the guy that gets laid out by Jack Tatum of the Raiders whenever they show Super Bowl XI clips on TV. Sammy White was one of my favorite players when I was a kid.
David Palmer, KR/PR, 1994: Palmer was arguably the best punt and kick returner in team history, and had some good seasons as a change of pace/receiving back in the late 1990's. I'd have a tough time pulling the trigger on Palmer though, but that said I never thought the Vikings utilized him enough out of the backfield. He always seemed to make something happen when he got the ball, but for whatever reason Denny Green never made him an important part of the offense.
Jim Kleinsasser, TE, 1999: This is my pick. That is all. Seriously, JK was the best blocking tight end in the NFL, and with the advent of advanced blocking statistics he might be regarded as the best blocking tight end in NFL history when it's all said and done. Not much of a pass catching threat, Kleinsasser more than earned his money in the trenches for 13 years.
Fred Robbins, 2000: Robbins never panned out as a Viking, but he turned his career around when he went to the New York Giants and has had a steady if unspectacular career. He's not going to take over a game, but he isn't going to make a lot of fundamental mistakes, either.
E.J. Henderson, LB, 2003: Henderson has been the MLB of a pretty stellar defense this decade, earning Pro Bowl honors and overcoming a gruesome broken leg. He's not spectacular, but a very, very solid player who rarely misses his gap assignment, is a sure tackler, and a stand out leader on defense. He's lost a step in the last season or two, but from about 2006-2009 he was one of the better MLB's in the NFL.
So there you go. Who ya got?