Fourteen years have passed since the 2005 NFL Draft went down at Radio City Music Hall in New York. I’ve said in this space before that draft might have produced the single worst draft class in the history of Minnesota Vikings’ football. Honestly, it’s probably one of the worst draft classes of modern times.
Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports confirmed that in a recent article that he wrote, as he named the Vikings’ 2005 draft class the second-worst of this century. The only class that he deemed to be worse was the Jamarcus Russell-led 2007 Oakland Raiders’ draft class. Strangely, that draft class contained defensive back Eric Frampton, who actually went on to be a very good special teams player for the Vikings after the Raiders let him go.
Here’s what he had to say about the group.
Picks: 1 (7) WR Troy Williamson; 1 (18) DE Erasmus James; 2 (49) OG Marcus Johnson; 3 (80) S Dustin Fox; 4 (112) RB Ciatrick Fason; 6 (191) DT C.J. Mosley; 7 (219) DB Adrian Ward
Worst pick: Williamson
It’s almost a tossup between the two first-rounders, but we’ll go with the higher pick here, even if Williamson lasted slightly longer in the NFL than James did. At least James – nicknamed “The Eraser” in college – could blame injuries for derailing his career. Williamson just couldn’t catch, it turned out. The man the Vikings drafted with the pick they acquired for Randy Moss dropped 11 passes as a rookie and claimed to have bad depth perception. Williamson could fly, but he caught only 87 passes and four TDs in 49 career games with the Vikings and Jaguars.
Best pick: Mosley
Not to be confused with the C.J. Mosley who just signed a megadeal with the New York Jets – and this is the perfect time to invoke the classic line from “Midnight Run,” the 1988 film: “Are all you guys named Mosley?!” – this Mosley turned in a solid career as a reserve defensive lineman for six teams over 11 seasons. Of course, he was ingloriously sent home from the Detroit Lions’ 2013 game against the Atlanta Falcons in London when marijuana was discovered in his hotel room. But he clearly was the standout in this group.
Overall: Brutal. Worse than the picks themselves was the fact that the Vikings twice passed on Aaron Rodgers in Round 1 and have watched him ring up a 42-6 TD-INT line in 22 games (including playoffs) against them over the years since then. If the Packers could draft Rodgers and sit him behind Favre, then the Vikings most certainly should have taken him as the backup to Daunte Culpepper, who would be traded to Miami in the 2006 offseason. The Vikings also took Johnson over Frank Gore, Vincent Jackson and Justin Tuck, and Fason over Darren Sproles and Trent Cole and would miss the playoffs for the following three seasons during the demise of the Mike Tice era.
Now, there’s no denying that the Vikings’ 2005 draft class was awful. No matter how you slice it, there was very little positive to come out of it. But I do want to pick a little bit of a bone with part of Edholm’s commentary.
(Hint: It’s the part I put in bold above.)
Yes, the Vikings “passed” on Aaron Rodgers twice, if you want to put it like that, and yes, the Packers drafted Rodgers and sat him behind Favre for three years. There are a few issues with this, however.
- In 2005, Culpepper was 28 years old and had just signed a huge $100 million contract. Favre, on the other hand, was 35 years old and in the midst of one of his half a dozen flirtations with retirement.
- Culpepper was coming off a season where he accounted for 43 touchdowns (39 through the air) despite Randy Moss being less than 100% for most of the season, and was second in the MVP voting that year to Peyton Manning (who set the single-season TD pass record). Favre was. . .not.
- The Vikings had no way of knowing that, seven games into the 2005 season, Culpepper was going to take a low hit and get his knee turned into spaghetti. I’m sure if they had been armed with that knowledge prior to the draft, they would have taken Rodgers. Also, without Culpepper’s injury, a trade almost certainly doesn’t happen.
- To that end, if the Vikings had taken Rodgers and the Culpepper injury still happens. . .who’s to say that Rodgers ends up being the same player if he’s thrust into action right away? You don’t think he got massive benefits from sitting for three years? I do. . .and if the 2005 Vikings draft him, that doesn’t happen.
There’s no problem with saying that the Vikings’ 2005 draft class was awful. It was. Honestly, I’ve been a fan of this team for over 30 years, and I don’t think there’s been a worse draft class in team history. But without context, the “Vikings passed on Aaron Rodgers” take is totally unnecessary.