With only two days remaining until the NFL Draft, there is more and more speculation about who the Vikings will select at No. 11 (unless of course, they trade up or down). Let’s take a look at some of the notable No. 11 picks throughout the league’s history.
Michael Irvin, WR, 1988
As a rookie, Michael Irvin became the first freshman receiver for Dallas to start a game in 20 years; he caught his first touchdown that same game. Irvin helped the Cowboys out of a slump, and in 1991 he led the team to the playoffs, finishing the season with 93 catches, an NFL-best 1,523 yards and eight TDs. The receiver played in five consecutive Pro Bowls. During Irvin’s career, Dallas won three Super Bowls: XXVII (Bills), XXVIII (Pittsburgh) and XXX (Steelers).
Irvin’s best season was 1995, in which he set Cowboys records for receiving yards (1,603) and receptions (111).
Daunte Culpepper, QB, 1999
Remember him? As Vikings fans, we’ll probably never forget “the roll” when Daunte Culpepper threw for touchdowns. The QB didn’t prove an instant success, as he did struggle during his first few seasons in Minnesota.
His first highlight season of course came in 2004, when he led the Vikings to the playoffs for the second time in his career. Culpepper threw for a league-leading 4,717 yards and set a Vikings record with 39 touch downs. That same year, he traveled to his third career Pro Bowl and broke Dan Marino’s NFL record for combined passing and rushing yards, totaling 5,123. Culpepper ranks fourth best in NFL QBs with his rushing average of 26.1 yards per game.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, 2004
That’s right — Big Ben himself fell to No. 11 in the 2004 NFL Draft. In his first season, Roethlisberger earned the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. In his sophomore year, he led the Steelers to a 21-10 win over Seattle in Super Bowl XL, becoming the youngest QB in NFL history to win a Super Bowl.
Roethlisberger ranks No. 9 all-time in NFL passer rating (92.6), No. 5 in yards per attempt (8.06) and No. 11 in completion percentage (63.24) among QBs with at least 1,500 career attempts. Here’s one more interesting stat: Roethlisberger is one of six QBs in NFL history to have beaten at least 31 of the current teams.
DeMarcus Ware, DE, 2005
The Cowboys selected DeMarcus Ware at No. 11 ten years ago, and he made quite the impact for their organization. Ware appeared in eight Pro Bowls and led the NFL in sacks during the 2008 and 2010 seasons. The DE earned Defensive Player of the Year following a 2008 season in which he recorded a sack in 10 straight games and notched 84 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and two passes defended.
Ware also received four First-Team honors, three Second-Team honors and received the NFL Butkus Award in both 2008 and 2011. He played nine seasons with Dallas before joining Denver for the 2014 season. Over his career, Ware has missed only three games.
[Jay Cutler, QB, 2006 – we won’t say too much about him.]
Patrick Willis, LB, 2007
Patrick Willis made sports headlines in March when he announced his retirement from the NFL at age 30. San Francisco fans were certainly disappointed to see him hang up his cleats, as Willis has been a huge part of the 49ers defense since being drafted in 2007.
Willis was a two-time All-American for Ole Miss, and he immediately made an impact in the Big Leagues, as well. The linebacker led the NFL in tackles his rookie season and earned the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Willis made the Pro Bowl in his first seven seasons in the NFL.
J.J. Watt, DE, 2011
Last but not least, the all-powerful J.J. Watt joined the NFL as a No. 11 selection. There’s probably not much I can say about Watt that’s not already known… the guy is arguably the best all-around player in the league.
Watt forewent his senior year of college and joined the NFL Draft, and he easily made the transition. The defensive end’s best season arguably was 2012, in which he wrapped up the year with 69 solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, 20.5 sacks, 16 passes defended, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Watt finished the season 2.5 sacks short of Michael Strahan’s single-season record for sacks, set in 2001.
During the 2014 season, Watt scored five touch downs, a massive number for a defensive player.