The 2002 and 2003 drafts were memorable for the Vikings, but not in a good way. And by not in a good way, I mean how they botched the selections. And by botched the selections, I don't mean the players they ultimately picked, but HOW those picks came to be. It was a combination of buffoonery, jackassery, and ridiculousness that just epitomized the off the field escapades of the Mike Tice Vikings.
In 2002, Dallas was picking 6th, Minnesota 7th, and Kansas City 8th. Dallas knew Minnesota wanted a defensive tackle, Ryan Sims, and were working a trade with Kansas City to move back two spots, because KC wanted to jump ahead of Minnesota and take Sims. While they were working out the trade details, the clock expired, but Minnesota couldn't get to the podium in time to grab Sims. The trade went through, Kansas City nabbed SIms, and the Vikings selected Bryant McKinnie...who held out until November of that year, and never has seemed to really live up to his potential. But at the end of the day, the Vikings got the better player, as Ryan Sims has only managed 8.5 sacks in 9 years with two different teams. There were wails from Viking Nation that Mike Tice was in over his head and the Vikings looked like the Keystone Cops because they weren't ready to pounce when Dallas ran out of time.
But 2003 made 2002 look like the Vikings were absolute Machiavellian geniuses, and what happened has gone down in draft day infamy.
Oh, 2003 draft. Yeah...
That year, it was the Vikings who were picking 7th, and they were on the clock. They were working the phones, and thought they had a deal with Baltimore, but the trade was not turned in on time, and time expired on the Vikings. As ESPN commentator Chris Berman...and all of Vikings nation...were literally flipping out that the Vikings had indeed passed, Jacksonville and Carolina, the two teams immediately after the Vikings, did what the Vikings didn't do in 2002: they rushed to the podium, pick in hand, and selected their guy. By now, it's pandemonium on the ESPN set and at the VIkings draft party at the Winter Park headquarters.
The Vikings FINALLY get a pick in, and select Oklahoma State defensive tackle Kevin Williams, the guy they say they want all along. Fans are furious that the Vikings look idiotic again, when Tice addresses the crowd at Winter Park he has to quell a near mutiny, and the media just piss pounds the Vikings ineptitude for days following that fiasco.
9 years later I think it's safe to say Kevin Williams was well worth it.
Williams has been a fairly quiet guy since he came into the league under such dubious beginnings, and has let his play on the field do the talking for him. Williams made an immediate impact on a defensive line that was in sore need of talent infusion, and in 2003 he registered 10.5 sacks (team leader), an interception, a fumble recovery, and 37 tackles. It was the first time a full time DT had registered double digit sacks for the VIkings since a guy by the name of John Randle did it in 1997 (Randle had double digit sacks in 1998 and 199, but he was playing primarily as a DE at the time).
He followed up his strong rookie campaign by getting 11.5 sacks, recovering 3 fumbles, picking off another pass, and making 52 tackles. Oh, he was also named to the first of his 5 first team NFL All-Pro teams. Williams has been an anchor on the Vikings line since then, and has been the latest in a long line of disruptive defensive tackles for the Vikings, going back to Alan Page.
WIlliams has teamed with Pat Williams to form one of the best defensive lines in the NFL over the last several years, the Williams Wall. Pairing with his namesake, the Vikings have been at or near the top in run defense for the latter part of the last four or five years, and his presence in the middle has made it easier for defensive ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards to reap the rewards in terms of quarterback sacks.
Williams is third all time in Vikings history for sacks among defensive tackles, trailing John Randle and Henry Thomas, who he should pass before he retires.
Yeah, his selection was about as awkward as Lawrence Welk would have been doing freestyle rap, but it worked out.
Much better than Lawrence Welk would have.
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