The other day, we took a look back at what the Minnesota Vikings have done on the occasions that they’ve held the 23rd pick in the NFL Draft. Even though there are plenty of outlets that put the Vikings at #23 in the first round, by the letter of NFL Draft rules they still hold the #24 pick. The Miami Dolphins still, technically, have the 21st pick, but they will be forfeiting that pick because they violated NFL tampering rules, among other things.
So, in the interest of covering all of our bases, we’re now going to take a look at what the Vikings have done with the 24th pick in the Draft. It’s a spot that they’ve only made a selection at twice in team history. In a bit of a coincidence, both of the times they’ve made that pick it went to choose a player from THE. . .dramatic pause. . .Ohio State University.
The first time it happened came in 1971 when the Vikings used the 24th pick to select Buckeyes’ running back Leo Hayden. It was. . .not a great pick. Hayden didn’t have a single carry in his rookie season, playing exclusively on special teams. Hayden would admit in later years that his play was impacted by drug usage, with the Vikings releasing him after just one season with the team. Hayden then went on to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals but appeared in just six games with them over the course of two seasons, carrying the ball eight times for eleven yards and one touchdown.
To his credit, Hayden turned his life around off the field after his playing career was over. He spent more than three decades working as a drug counselor and helping prison inmates to reintegrate into society before retiring in 2010 at the age of 72.
The Vikings’ other selection at the 24th spot in the Draft came in 1995 when the team selected Ohio State offensive tackle Korey Stringer. A two-time Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, Stringer came in and immediately held down the right tackle spot for the Vikings, serving with Todd Steussie as a pair of outstanding bookends for what would develop into one of the best offensive lines in team history. After being named to the Pro Bowl following the 2000 season, Stringer appeared poised to take over the left tackle spot that Steussie vacated by signing with the Carolina Panthers as a free agent.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck on the second day of Training Camp in 2001, when Stringer suffered a heat stroke during practice and died of organ failure as a result of that stroke later that day. It was an event that rocked the Vikings’ organization not only on the field but off of it, as numerous players, including Randy Moss, were visibly emotional at the press conferences that followed Stringer’s passing. Stringer’s passing has led to numerous changes in the way that NFL teams conduct practices with regard to heat and the availability of water and other resources. Even with that, it remains one of the darker days in franchise history.
During that 2001 season, the Vikings retired Stringer’s #77. At the time, he was the fourth player in franchise history to have his number retired, following Fran Tarkenton, Jim Marshall, and Alan Page.
That’s the history of the Minnesota Vikings and the 24th overall selection in the NFL Draft, folks. Here’s hoping that the Vikings will make a successful selection with that pick in a little more than two weeks.