The 5 Worst Draft Picks in Vikings History

Laquon Treadwell Continues NFL Hopscotch
Aug 24, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

On Saturday, we detailed the Minnesota Vikings five best draft picks in franchise history, from Randy Moss to Fran Tarkenton.

Minnesota embarks on the 2023 NFL Draft in 11 days, hoping more men to jump onto that list and not the one below.

The 5 Worst Draft Picks in Vikings History

The Vikings have encountered some unfortunate draft picks in 62 years, like every team, some more memorable than others. These are the five worst draft picks in club history, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = worst) per Stathead’s approximate value metric.

5. Laquon Treadwell

Cowboys Work Out
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Laquon Treadwell (Mississippi) after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings as the number twenty-three overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports.

Position: WR
Drafted: Round 1 (2016)
Games Played for Vikings: 53

The Vikings lucked out by discovering Adam Thielen from undrafted free agency and Stefon Diggs from the 5th Round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Otherwise, the swing-and-miss on Treadwell really would’ve inflicted pain.

On the whole, though, flubbing the Treadwell pick didn’t really matter because of Thielen + Diggs’ production.

Treadwell averaged 13.2 receiving yards per game, narrowly edging Troy Williamson for inclusion on this list.

4. D.J. Dozier

Jan 13, 1988; New Orleans, LA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Minnesota Vikings running back D.J. Dozier (42) in action against the New Orleans Saints during the 1987 NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at the Superdome. The Vikings defeated the Saints 44-10. Mandatory Credit: MPS-USA TODAY Sports.

Position: RB
Drafted: Round 1 (1987)
Games Played for Vikings: 37

Minnesota hasn’t fired up much luck with Doziers, and back in 1987, this 1st-Round pick was supposed to be a difference maker. He wasn’t, and soon after, the Vikings executed one of the worst trades in sports history for Herschel Walker as a result.

Dozier produced 691 rushing yards in three years as a Viking, a terrible output for a 1st-Rounder.

3. Erasmus James

Sep 17, 2006; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA: Carolina Panthers running back (34) DeAngelo Williams runs in the first half of the game and throws an arm at Minnesota Vikings defensive end (99) Erasmus James at the Metrodome. Mandatory credit: Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn USA TODAY Sports Copyright © Bruce Kluckhohn.

Position: DE
Drafted: Round 1 (2005)
Games Played for Vikings: 28

The last time the Vikings used 1st-Round draft capital on an outside linebacker or defensive end was James in 2005. Yes, 18 years ago.

James played in 28 games from 2005 to 2007 and notched 6 sacks. From Round 1, that number should’ve had about 18-35. He packed his bags for the Washington Commanders in 2008 and retired a year later.

2. Leo Hayden

Aug 14, 1971; San Diego, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Minnesota Vikings running back Leo Hayden (44) in action against the San Diego Chargers during a pre-season game at San Diego Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports.

Position: RB
Drafted: Round 1 (1971)
Games Played for Vikings: 7

The 24th overall pick in the 1971 NFL Draft, the photo above was from a preseason game. Hayden didn’t have a single rushing yard in the regular season for the Vikings and lasted seven games for the club.

He later played for the St. Louis Cardinals for two seasons, registered 11 total rushing yards, and retired in 1974 at the age of 25. Thankfully, Chuck Foreman came along in 1973 and filled the “Hayden role” from 1973 to 1979.

1. Dimitrius Underwood (LB)

Former Vikings DT Dimitrius Underwood. Image Courtesy of

Position: DT
Drafted: Round 1 (1999)
Games Played for Vikings: 0

Underwood walked away from Vikings training camp on August 2nd, 1999, and that was that for his Vikings career. He reportedly had a rough time blending football with his faith — or so the story went at that time.

He later played for the Dallas Cowboys in 2000 and 2001 but retired before too long. Underwood also had some brush-ups with the law in 2002, but it was later revealed he had bouts with mental illness. With today’s empathy regarding such maladies, the retrospective view of Underwood’s NFL career softened and is more understandable.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by