Today in our Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers series, we’re taking a look at the #51. While the 50s have been dominated by linebackers thus far, the number 51 gives us a bit of diversity as far as positions are concerned.
In terms of Approximate Value, according to Pro Football Reference, the most productive #51 in Vikings history is offensive lineman Jim Hough. Hough was picked by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 1978 NFL Draft, and played his entire nine season career in Minnesota. He played primarily at left guard, starting 75 of his 111 career games for the Vikings from 1978 to 1986. Something that I was unaware of about Hough before looking him up is that he also participated in the 1982 World’s Strongest Man competition, something I’m guessing not many players did while they were still active in the NFL.
Getting back to the linebackers, Carlos Jenkins was solid from 1991 to 1994, starting on the outside during his last three years with the Vikings after only playing three games as a rookie. In his first season as a starter, he scored two touchdowns (one on an interception return and one on a fumble return). It looked like the future was fairly bright for him, but he moved on to sign with the St. Louis Rams in 1995. He played two seasons in St. Louis and was then out of football.
Lance Johnstone made a very nice living as a situational pass rusher for the Vikings for five seasons from 2001 to 2005. After coming over from the Oakland Raiders, Johnstone got off to a bit of a slow start, but collected 28.5 quarterback sacks over his final three seasons in Minnesota, including 11 in 2004. He returned to Oakland for one final season in 2006 before announcing his retirement.
The most recent prominent Viking to wear the #51 was linebacker Ben Leber. Leber, who came to the Vikings from San Diego in 2006, Leber was the primary starter at one outside linebacker spot for the team from 2006 to 2010. He collected five interceptions and 12 quarterback sacks for the Vikings during his tenure in Minnesota, and seemed to be rarely out of position in the Minnesota defense during his time as a starter. He played one last season with the St. Louis Rams in 2011 before retiring.
Vikings that have worn the number 51:
- Jim Leo (1962)
- Dave Tobey (1966 - 1967)
- Godfrey Zaunbrecher (1971 - 1973, and on the short list of best names in Vikings’ history)
- Jim Hough (1978 - 1986)
- Peter Najarian (1987)
- David Howard (1987 - 1989)
- Carlos Jenkins (1991 - 1994)
- Broderick Thomas (1995)
- Ben Hanks (1996)
- Ron Holmberg (1999)
- Mitch Palmer (2000)
- Lance Johnstone (2001 - 2005)
- Ben Leber (2006 - 2010)
- Larry Dean (2011 - 2013)
- Josh Kaddu (2014)
- Edmond Robinson (2015 - present)
We will finish out the 50s tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen!
Who is the greatest Viking to wear the number 51?
This poll is closed
Jim Hough (1978 - 1986)
Carlos Jenkins (1991 - 1994)
Lance Johnstone (2001 - 2005)
Ben Leber (2006 - 2010)