Just a few minutes ago, we did the first half of our look at past first-round draft picks of the Minnesota Vikings. That post spanned the time period from 1961 to 1989, and now we’re going to look at the group from 1990 to the present day. Just as there were some awfully impressive names on the first list, there are a lot of greats here as well. So, let’s not delay any further and get to them now.
Daunte Culpepper, QB, Central Florida - A guy that a not-insignificant segment of Vikings’ fandom loved to hate, Culpepper is on the short list of best quarterbacks the Vikings have had that weren’t named Tarkenton. He had a truly historic season in 2004, and frankly probably should have been the league MVP that season. He wound up disappearing after his knee injury in 2005, but wound up putting up some very impressive numbers during his career.
Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa - More “steady” then “spectacular,” Greenway’s rookie season lasted one quarter of one pre-season game, as he tore an ACL on kickoff coverage in the first game of the 2006 pre-season. After that, however, Greenway was a consistent presence for the Vikings. He made the Pro Bowl twice and was named the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2015. Oh, and he’s one of two Vikings to ever be given the “Franchise” tag, which is something, I suppose.
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida - Harvin, like another receiver we’ll talk about here shortly, didn’t have the greatest of departures from Minnesota. But, during the short time he was with the Vikings, he was among the most dynamic players in the NFL with the ball in his hands. The 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, he is tied for the Vikings’ franchise record for return touchdowns with five, and set an NFL record for the longest non-scoring play in NFL history in 2011 with a 104-yard kickoff return against Atlanta.
Randy Moss, WR, Marshall - What can we say about Randy Moss that hasn’t already been said? The 21st overall pick in 1998. . .and it’s hilarious to think he wasn’t even the first wide receiver off the board that year. . .Moss changed the way defenses played coverage and the way NFC Central/North rivals put their rosters together. Despite the way he departed from Minnesota (which nobody can really hold against him), Moss is certainly the most physically gifted wide receiver that’s ever worn the purple, and in a few months will be the first wide receiver since Jerry Rice to be enshrined in Canton on his first attempt.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma - Peterson is, quite simply, the most dominant running back the Minnesota Vikings have ever put on the field, and the best pure running back of his generation. He set the tone for his career by setting the single-game rushing record as a rookie in 2007. . .a mark that still stands. . .and then by coming back from a nasty knee injury to come up just short of the single-season NFL rushing record and win the MVP award in 2012. He’s headed to Canton five years to the day that he decides to retire.
Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame - While it may seem a bit soon to put Smith on this list, his career is certainly on the correct trajectory to be on lists like this in the future. Smith is a three-time Pro Bowler, and earned a first-team All-Pro nod in 2017, a season where he was in the discussion for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Korey Stringer, OT, Ohio State - Stringer bookended the Vikings’ offensive line with Todd Steussie for six seasons from 1995 to 2000, and after making the Pro Bowl in 2000 was set to make the switch to the left side following Steussie’s departure. Unfortunately, tragedy struck before that could happen, as Stringer suffered a heat stroke in Training Camp in 2001 and passed away.
Kevin Williams, DT, Oklahoma State - The one thing most people outside of Minnesota remember about Kevin Williams is he was the guy that was drafted when the Vikings “screwed up” in 2003. If it gets them more players like Williams, the Vikings can feel free to “screw up” every year, honestly. Williams was one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL from the moment he first stepped on the field. He was named a first-team All-Pro in 2004, and then in four straight seasons from 2006 to 2009. He teamed with Pat Williams to form the famed “Williams Wall,” which helped the Vikings lead the NFL in rushing defense for three straight years as well.
Again, much like the first of these two posts, there are probably a few guys I left off, but there are still plenty of choices here and plenty of debate to be had.
That concludes our series of the best draft picks for the Minnesota Vikings in each round of the NFL Draft. Tomorrow, we will finally find out the name of somebody that might be on this list someday themselves.
Who was the greatest first round pick by the Vikings from 1990 to the present day?
This poll is closed
Daunte Culpepper, QB, Central Florida (1999)
Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa (2006)
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida (2009)
Randy Moss, WR, Marshall (1998)
Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma (2007)
Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame (2012)
Korey Stringer, OT, Ohio State (1995)
Kevin Williams, DT, Oklahoma State (2003)