Minnesota Vikings Draft: Teams Are Built After The First Round, Too

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody talks about how important a first round pick is. While that's true, mining for talent is just as important in rounds two and three.

With the NFL Draft finally starting next Thursday, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves a team needing to fill a lot of holes.  We've talked ad nauseum about who the Vikings should or shouldn't pick in the first round.  Granted, the first round pick is the most important one, but guys picked in rounds two and three are expected to be starters and significant contributors, too.

How have guys drafted there worked out for the purple and gold in recent seasons?

This isn't going to be an 'all time' list of guys picked in those rounds.  What I'm going to do is look at second and third round picks going back to 2004, and see how the organization has done, and what kind of players they've drafted.  How do we determine whether or not a guy has been a 'bust' or not? That's admittedly subjective, but I'm going to look at how many years a player was with the team, and how many starts they had.  That's a minimum baseline, and we can move on from there.  So here's the list:

Year

Round

Player

Position

Starts/Games

Yrs With Team

2004

2

Dontarrious Thomas

LB

10/63

5

2004

3

Darrion Scott

DE

28/44

4

2005

2

Marcus Johnson

G

18/47

4

2005

3

Dustin Fox

CB

0/0

0

2006

2

Cedric Griffin

CB

56/64

6

2006

2

Ryan Cook

OL

40/70

5

2006

2

Tarvaris Jackson

QB

20/36

5

2007

2

Sidney Rice

WR

26/48

4*

2007

3

Marcus McCauley

CB

10/26

2

2008

2

Tyrell Johnson

S

27/49

4

2009

2

Phil Loadholt

T

78/78

5

2009

3

Asher Allen

CB

21/37

3

2010

2

Chris Cook

CB

29/34

4

2010

2

Toby Gerhart

RB

6/61

4

2011

2

Kyle Rudolph

TE

32/39

3*

2012

3

Josh Robinson

`CB

16/26

2

*Indicates All Pro at least one time

NOTE: The Vikings had no second or third round pick in 2013, because Rick Spielman was trading LIKE A BOSS.

Looking back a decade, it's pretty easy to see why the Vikings have struggled to remain competitive year in and year out--the guys you draft to be the backbone of your roster, guys you want to be solid contributors over a long period of time, just aren't found on this list.  With a few notable exceptions.

Let's go back to 2004-2006, which was the end of the Tice regime and the beginning of the Brad Childress era.  Of those seven guys, there's only two I would consider guys that were good to okay picks.  The first one was CB Cedric Griffin, who had a promising career derailed by consecutive ACL tears in 2009 and 2010.  The other guy was OL Ryan Cook, who I will maintain was drafted three round too early.  Still, he did okay on the offensive line, and ended up being fairly versatile as the #1 sub on the line, eventually playing center, guard, and tackle.  he wasn't great, but he was a good depth guy for a few seasons.

We've had enough talk about quarterbacks here, so let's just not say anything about Tarvaris Jackson, okay? Cool.

Oh, that 2005 draft.  We go on and on...and rightly so...about that terrible first round, but when taken in total, that draft has to be considered the worst draft class in team history.  Marcus Johnson wasn't any good, and Dustin Fox never played a down as a Viking. Ouch.

From 2007 on, there are nine players that have been selected.  Of those nine, I think you can make a case for only three guys that have been considered success stories: Phil Loadholt, Toby Gerhart, and Kyle Rudolph.

Loadholt won the starting RT job as a rookie, has held on to it for five years, and signed a contract extension last year.  The only other player on this entire list who got an extension was Griffin, right before the 2009 season. That's it. The two guys who were eligible to get an extension by the Vikings from the 2010 class, Gerhart and Cook, left via free agency.

Gerhart was a guy I thought of as a solid contributor, and a player that did well in the role assigned to him...but I'm not sure using a second round pick on a guy that you knew was going to primarily be a backup was the smartest move.  But then you look at how well he did when he played for Adrian Peterson when he was hurt, and I understand the logic.

I'm done talking about Chris Cook.  I still have as many career interceptions in the NFL as he does.

The last guy is Kyle Rudolph, who has become a top target in the Vikings passing attack.  He only played eight games last year, but he's the real deal, and I'm very excited to see how he'll be deployed in a NORV! Turner offense.

I would listen to an argument to be made for Sidney Rice, too.  He only had one really great year, 2009, and struggled with injuries the rest of his time in Minnesota. It also seemed the Vikings were justified in letting him walk after the 2010 season, as he hasn't come close to matching the production he had in 2009. But that one year, with Brett Favre throwing to him, he was magnificent, and I don't think the Vikings go 12-4 and make the NFC Championship without him. Does that one season make up for the others? I don't know.

Overall, though, the Vikings have really struggled to find solid players in the early rounds.  Championship rosters aren't built in just the first round, and when your recent success rate of finding good players in rounds two and three hovering at around 30%, depending on who you consider a success story, you begin to understand why the Vikings have struggled to remain competitive year in and year out.

With any luck, and a lot of solid scouting, this will change come next Friday and Saturday.

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