For as long as I’ve been writing for this little corner of the internet, I’ve maintained that the Minnesota Vikings’ worst draft class of all time came in the 2005 NFL Draft. From the purple completely blowing it on not one, but two first round picks (wide receiver Troy Williamson and defensive end Erasmus James) and the rest of the class not really amounting to much, that class was pretty dismal.
(And before we get too far into the proceedings, I don’t want to hear about how the Vikings “passed” on Aaron Rodgers in 2005. They had a 27-year old starting quarterback (Daunte Culpepper) that was coming off of a season that saw him throw for over 4,700 yards and 39 touchdowns, and saw him come in second in the NFL MVP voting to a guy that set the single-season record for touchdown passes. The Vikings would have been certifiably bonkers to take a quarterback in the first round that year, and anyone that says otherwise is probably pretty ignorant of history and how the draft actually works.)
But, thanks to another article from behind the great E$PN paywall, I may have to adjust my line of thinking on the worst Vikings’ draft class of all time.
The four-letter took each team’s worst draft class in their history and proceeded to rack and stack them against one another to determine the all-time worst. They based their figures on Pro Football Reference’s calculation of “Approximate Value” (or AV) of all the players drafted. There was a four-way tie for first place for their worst draft class of all time (each with an AV of zero) between the 1975 Kansas City Chiefs, the 1976 Washington Redskins, the 1989 Los Angeles Raiders. . .and the 1989 Minnesota Vikings.
How bad was the Vikings’ draft class? Here’s ESPN’s description of it:
The Vikings traded their first-round pick to the Steelers for linebacker Mike Merriweather on the eve of the draft, making linebacker David Braxton (second round) their first pick. Braxton joined tight end Darryl Ingram (fourth round) as the only two of the team's nine draft picks to play a game with Minnesota -- and neither lasted long there. The lone bright spot in the Vikings' draft was running back Brad Baxter (11th round), who went on to score 35 career touchdowns ... for the Jets.
For the record, here’s the entire Vikings’ draft class of 1989, which you can find (along with every other Vikings’ draft selection) in our Complete Minnesota Vikings Draft Pick Database.
Round 2, #52 overall - David Braxton, LB, Wake Forest
Round 3, #80 overall - John Hunter, OT, Brigham Young
Round 4, #108 overall - Darryl Ingram, TE, California
Round 6, #163 overall - Jeff Mickel, OT, Eastern Washington
Round 7, #191 overall - Benji Roland, DT, Auburn
Round 8, #219 overall - Alex Stewart, DE, Fullerton State
Round 11, #303 overall - Brad Baxter, RB, Alabama State
Round 12, #331 overall - Shawn Woodson, LB, James Madison
Round 12, #335 overall - Everett Ross, WR, Ohio State
Let’s run down the list of how thsee players fared, Stand by Me style.
- Braxton played in just three games for the Vikings as a rookie, and one game in his second year before winding up with the Phoenix Cardinals. He recorded a grand total of one tackle in his Vikings’ career.
- Hunter played for Atlanta from 1989 to 1991 and spent 1992 with Seattle. He played in 26 career games.
- Ingram played in all 16 games as a rookie for the Vikings, catching five passes for 47 yards and a score. He missed the entire 1990 season, and resurfaced with the Cleveland Browns in 1991. He played three seasons after leaving Minnesota, one with Cleveland and two with Green Bay, and never caught another pass.
- Mickel spent the 1990 season with the Los Angeles Rams and played one game. Then he was out of the league.
- Roland spent the 1990 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played in three games. He was out of the league after that.
- Stewart, Woodson, and Ross never played a down in the NFL.
- Baxter had the most success, as ESPN says, but none of it came with Minnesota. He was picked up by the New York Jets and played just one game in 1989, but from 1990 to 1995 he appeared in 93 games for the Jets at fullback, starting in 73 of them. He rushed for 2,928 yards and 35 touchdowns for Gang Green.
So, yes. . .it may be entirely true that the 2005 draft class was not the worst in Minnesota Vikings’ history. I don’t know if I’m happy to stand corrected on this one or not.