[Note: This reflection on the Vikings’ success in the first round of the most recent decade’s worth of drafts is provided courtesy of Matt Falk from Draft Season. We highly recommend checking out their site for scouting reports of this year’s top prospects with a Vikings slant.]
Over the past 10 years, the Vikings have done a decent job finding talent in the first round of the NFL Draft. While they’ve have had their share of big misses, they’ve also hit on some stars along the way.
Let’s take a quick look back and attempt to rank them from worst to best.
#12 – 2011 – Christian Ponder QB, Florida St. (12th overall)
It’s hard to not feel bad for Ponder. He really never should of have been the 12th overall pick. Due to where he was selected, fans had some unrealistic expectations. Unsurprisingly, Ponder never panned out and struggled through a rocky four years in Minnesota. You’ve, gotta give the guy credit though; he acted like a true professional during his time in Minnesota.
#11 – 2013 – Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee (29th overall)
Patterson toyed with our emotions during his big rookie season, but has been in a nose dive ever since. While he’s still one of the most dangerous return men in the league, he adds absolutely nothing to the team as a wide receiver. Unless he has a huge turnaround, we won’t be seeing him on the field with the offense, except in August. For now, we’ll just have to get excited when he gets the chance to return a kick.
#10 – 2015 – Trae Waynes (11th overall)
The only reason Waynes is so low on the list is because it’s much too soon to know what we really have in the Michigan State cornerback. He barely saw the field as a rookie, but did show some flashes (along with some growing pains). I would feel confident saying that in a few years, we could see him bumping up at least a few spots on this same list.
#9 – 2012 – Matt Kalil OT, USC (4th overall)
Kalil gave Vikings fan some false hope with a dominant rookie season. The years following his 2012 campaign, however, have been riddled with injuries and average to below-average play. In 2015, he improved and showed glimpses of the promising form displayed his first year out of USC. I still consider him an above average tackle, and he should continue to man the Vikings’ left side for years to come. It’s been said before, though; left tackles don’t grow on trees.
#8 – 2013 – Sharrif Floyd (23rd overall)
Despite being one of the Vikings’ better defenders, Floyd manages to fly under the radar quite a bit and is overshadowed by the presence of Linval Joseph. He is a solid compliment to Joseph, having racked up 9.5 sacks and a handful of tackles for loss over his 3-year career.
#7 – 2014 – Teddy Bridgewater (32nd overall)
Though the jury is still out on Teddy Bridgewater, the fact is he helped lead the Vikings to an 11-5 record and an NFC North Championship in 2015. No, he hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers. But he is doing exactly what the Vikings have asked him to do, which is manage games from the pocket. The 2016 season will be huge for the former Louisville quarterback and will hopefully see him solidify himself as the Vikings’ quarterback for years to come.
#6 – 2013 – Xavier Rhodes (25th overall)
Rhodes doesn’t get as much love as he should. He is one of the top corners in the NFC North and has taken over the no. 1 cornerback spot for the Vikings. Still only 25 years old, something tells me we have yet to see the best of Rhodes. He still gets pass interference happy, but his good plays heavily outweigh the bad ones.
#5 – 2014 – Anthony Barr (9th overall)
I’m not gonna lie, I scratched my head for quite a while after the Barr selection. Sure enough, he has been everything the Vikings had hoped for and MORE. While he has had his share of injuries, when he is on the field, he is all over the place. Barr has proven that not only can he get his hands on the quarterback, but he also excels against both the pass and run.
#4 – 2009 – Percy Harvin (22nd overall)
Yes, Harvin was a headache… But the fact is, he was one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the NFL during his prime. Whether he was used as a receiver, running back, or return man, he had the ability to take it to the house every time he touched the ball. And don’t forget, this guy also netted the Vikings a 1st, 3rd and 7th round pick when he was traded to the Seahawks.
#3 – 2012 – Harrison Smith (29th overall)
Smith has been a game changer since his rookie season and is a large reason for the Vikings’ ascension as one of the NFL’s best defensive teams. Over four years, he has 12 INTs, 5.5 sacks, 4 return touchdowns, and numerous bone-jarring hits. The best part about “The Hitman” is he only seems to be getting better. Good things should continue to come to #22 for the next few years.
# 2 – 2006 – Chad Greenway (17th overall)
Though his career got off to a rocky start with a torn ACL, Greenway has been the leader of the Vikings defense since being drafted out of Iowa in 2006. Throughout his career with the Vikings, ( it looks like he could be back in 2016), he has tallied over 1,000 tackles and 10 INTs.
#1 – 2007 – Adrian Peterson (7th overall)
It’s pretty tough to have anyone else at the top other than No. 28. Peterson has been the best running back in the league and still is at age 30. The fact that this guy lasted until the seventh pick is almost offensive. When all is said and done, regardless if A.P. finishes his career in a purple jersey, he will go down as one of the greatest Vikings of all-time, and possibly one of the best running backs ever to play the game.