The Vikings Best 1st-Round Picks in History

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings currently hold the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and while rumors are flying in every direction as to which way they could go, we certainly know what they have done in the past. Nailing first-round picks is a must, and this organization has done well at times previously.

When taking a player in the first round, the last thing you want to see happen is the athlete being a bust. The Vikings have definitely seen their fair share of those. To combat that, you’d like to see an immediate starting impact from your first-round selection, and the player being an All-Pro or eventual Hall-of-Fame talent is something the Vikings have seen too.

The Vikings Best 1st-Round Picks in History

In no particular order, here are the Vikings top five first-round picks in organization history during the Modern Era (post-1970):

Honorable Mention – Chuck Foreman – 12th | 1973 (Miami)

Round Picks in
Chuck Foreman

Winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1973 and going on to play in five Pro Bowls while being named a one-time All-Pro, Foreman’s career is too decorated to leave him off entirely.

Adrian Peterson – 7th | 2007 (Oklahoma)

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the best pick in the history of first-round Vikings selections, Peterson will go down as one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game. His accolades are longer than a laundry list, and he led the Vikings during some very good years. He will eventually be enshrined in Canton, and being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame makes him a must for this list.

Harrison Smith – 29th | 2012 (Notre Dame)

NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Press Conference
Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Entering his 12th year for the Vikings, Smith is a pillar of longevity within the organization. He has made six Pro Bowls and is a one-time All-Pro. Multiple seasons over the course of his career have seen him rate out as one of the best safeties in the league, and he has been a captain of the defense for some time. The Vikings got him at the tail-end of the 2012 first round, and he has provided exceptional value ever since. The Hall of Fame could be a possibility, but there is no doubt he will join the Vikings Ring of Honor.

Kevin Williams – 9th | 2003 (Oklahoma State)

Kevin Williams
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 1: Kevin Williams #93 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on before the game against the Chicago Bears on December 1, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Bear 23-20 in overtime. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

A six-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time All-Pro, Williams was part of one of the best interior lines in all of football. The Minnesota Vikings employed a dominant front during Williams’ tenure, and his 63 career sacks from the defensive tackle position are otherworldly. He is still waiting on the call from Canton, but it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Randy Moss – 21st 1998 (Marshall)


Maybe the most electrifying wide receiver to ever play the game, Randy Moss brought personality and flair to Minnesota. Starting with an Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Moss never slowed down when racking up the awards. Playing with quarterbacks such as Daunte Culpepper, Tom Brady, and Brett Favre, it was Moss that made each of them look even better. Five times he led the league in touchdowns, and the 156 he pulled in across his career rank second all-time behind only Jerry Rice.

Chris Doleman – 4th | 1985 (Pittsburgh)


An eight-time Pro Bowl selection and twice being named to an All-Pro team, Doleman found his eventual home in Canton. Playing with the Vikings for a decade before continuing his career for five more years, his edge rushing skills were the stuff of legend. Racking up 150.5 career sacks, he ranks 5th all-time. Doleman was a menace around the edge and pursued the quarterback like none other.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.