Today is the day that we finish up our series of the greatest Minnesota Vikings’ draft picks in each round of the NFL Draft. Since there’s one day until the 2018 NFL Draft gets underway, we are looking at first-round picks.
Now, as you’d expect, the Vikings have hit on a lot of first-round picks over the years, including plenty of all-time greats. There are so many, in fact, that we’re going to break this one into two separate posts. After doing some quick math, it appears that the midway point in Vikings’ history is 1989. So, this post will feature the first-round picks from the team’s inception in 1961 to 1989, while the other will feature first-round picks from 1990 to today.
With that, let’s get started on the first half of our post here.
Joey Browner, S, Southern California - The Vikings’ first-round pick in 1983, Browner struck fear into every receiver or running back that was unfortunate enough to cross his path. Browner was a six-time Pro Bowler and a three-time first-team All-Pro during his time with the Vikings, as well as a member of the NFL’s All-1980s team.
Chris Doleman, DE, Pittsburgh - Selected in 1985 with the #4 overall pick, Doleman was initially miscast as an outside linebacker. When the team’s defensive scheme changed and Doleman moved to defensive end, he became one of the most feared pass rushers in team history. A six-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro with the Vikings, he set the team record for sacks in a season with 21 in 1989, a record that stood until it was broken by Jared Allen in 2011.
Carl Eller, DE, Minnesota - Eller, who the team selected in 1964, is recognized in the history books as the Vikings’ all-time sack leader with 130.5. (Yes, I know that there are other players in team history that had more.) He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1971, and received five first-team All-Pro nods in his career.
Chuck Foreman, RB, Miami (FL) - The man that was considered the greatest running back in team history (before Adrian Peterson came along), Foreman was the NFL’s Rookie of the Year in 1973, and a first-team All-Pro in the four years that followed. He even managed to lead the National Football League in receptions in 1975 with 73. Foreman rushed for over 1,000 yards three times with the Vikings, and though his star burned bright, it unfortunately burned too short, as he was only a Viking for seven seasons.
Tommy Kramer, QB, Rice - When it comes to quarterbacks in Vikings’ history not named Fran Tarkenton, “Two-Minute Tommy” is on the short list of those that could be considered the best. Drafted in 1977 to be the heir to Tarkenton, Kramer was bitten by the injury bug frequently in his career, but had plenty of great moments as well, including the original “Miracle at the Met” against the Cleveland Browns in 1980.
Randall McDaniel, G, Arizona State - McDaniel, of all of the greats on this list, may have been the greatest pure athlete the Vikings have ever had. (Seriously, track down his list of athletic exploits sometime. It’s insane.) The team’s first-round pick in 1988, McDaniel was dominant from his first day as a Viking. How dominant? He was a first-team All-Pro for nine consecutive seasons (1990 to 1998). He also started in 12 consecutive Pro Bowls (from 1989 to 2000).
Alan Page, DT, Notre Dame - When you’re one of just a couple of defensive players in the history of the NFL to be named league MVP, you get to be on this list. Page is, arguably, the greatest defensive tackle in the history of the National Football League, and certainly the best defensive tackle to ever wear the purple. Sacks weren’t an official stat back in Page’s day, but if they were he’d probably be lapping the field in Vikings’ history. And this doesn’t even count what he did off the field, which might have been even more impressive.
Ron Yary, OT, Southern California - The Vikings used first-round picks on Page (1967) and Yary (1968) in back-to-back years. That’s not a bad haul. One of only two Vikings to ever be drafted #1 overall by the team, Yary was the first offensive lineman ever to be taken at #1 overall. What an incredible career he had. . .a seven-time Pro Bowler, a six-time first-team All-Pro (and two second-team nods), and enshrinement in Canton.
That’s a pretty damn impressive list of football players right there, and there are probably a couple I managed to leave off. Still, these are the best of the best that were drafted in the first round by the Vikings from 1961 to 1989.
Coming up shortly, the Vikings’ first-round picks from 1990 to the present day.
Who was the greatest first round pick by the Vikings between 1961 and 1989?
This poll is closed
Joey Browner, S, USC (1983)
Chris Doleman, DE, Pittsburgh (1985)
Carl Eller, DE, Minnesota (1964)
Chuck Foreman, RB, Miami (1973)
Tommy Kramer, QB, Rice (1977)
Randall McDaniel, G, Arizona State (1988)
Alan Page, DT, Notre Dame (1967)
Ron Yary, OT, Southern California (1968)