The 5 Best Draft Picks in Vikings History


The Minnesota Vikings waltzed onto the scene in 1961 and have been one of the sport’s top franchises since.

Minnesota has the third-best regular season winning percentage in the Super Bowl era but curiously no Super Bowl trophies to show for it. Such is life for Vikings football in 62 seasons.

The 5 Best Draft Picks in Vikings History

Along the way, countless draft picks have impacted the team mightily, and these are the five best to do it, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = best) per Stathead‘s approximate value metric.

5. Randy Moss

The 5 Best Draft Picks
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Wide Receiver

Pro Bowls: 6
1st-Team All-Pro: 4

Drafted: Round 1 (1998)
Total Seasons a Starter in NFL:

It almost feels silly to provide a caption because, for most fans, none is needed. Moss forever changed the Vikings — and the NFL’s passing game — spending 7.5 seasons in Minnesota.

Ask any Vikings enthusiast between the ages of 30 and 45, and he or she will likely tell you Moss is why they became a fan. He was that damn good.

The only reason he isn’t higher on the list is comparative longevity. For impact on the franchise — marketability, popularity, etc. — an argument could be made for Moss at No. 1.

4. Randall McDaniel

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports.


Pro Bowls: 12
1st-Team All-Pro:
Drafted: Round 1 (1988)
Total Seasons a Starter in NFL:

If offensive guards were “allowed” to get as much credit as quarterbacks, wide receivers, and EDGE rushers, McDaniel could reasonably be coined the best Viking ever. Look at his resume.

The man was a flawless trenchman and helped anchor Minnesota’s offensive line from 1988 to 1999. He then trekked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, retiring one year too soon as Jon Gruden’s Buccaneers won a Super Bowl right after McDaniel left.

3. Carl Eller

NFL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Oct 8, 1972; Minneapolis, MN, USA; FILE PHOTO; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Carl Eller (81) in action against St. Louis Cardinals offensive lineman Ernie McMillan (73) at Metropolitan Stadium. Mandatory Credit Herb Weitman-USA TODAY Sports.

Defensive End

Pro Bowls: 6
1st-Team All-Pro:
Drafted: Round 1 (1964)
Total Seasons a Starter in NFL:

Eller ranks 18th all-time in sacks, is in the Hall of Fame like Moss and McDaniel, and was a foundational staple of the Purple People Eaters along with the next guy on the list.

Playing at the University of Minnesota before heading to Bloomington, Eller was also a Golder Gopher before a Viking, only enhancing the lore of his robust resume.

2. Alan Page

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Defensive Tackle

Pro Bowls: 9
Drafted: Round 1 (1967)
Total Seasons a Starter in NFL:

Page ranks eighth all-time in sacks with 148.5, an otherworldly amount for a defensive tackle. Choosing between him and Eller for the Nos. 2 and 3 spots felt like deciding between Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs’ impact on the 2015-2019 Vikings. They’re surprisingly equal.

In the end, Page was probably a bit more productive but only by a whisker.

1. Fran Tarkenton

Photo By Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY Sports.


Pro Bowls: 9
All-Pro: 1

Drafted: Round 3 (1961)
Total Seasons a Starter in NFL:

Three items give Tarkenton the nod at the apex of this list:

  1. He played the NFL’s most important position.
  2. Tarkenton was a Round 3 find 62 years ago — not Round 1.
  3. His longevity is unrivaled among QBs in Vikings history.

Tarkenton played a career equivalent to Harrison Smith + Eric Kendricks’ current tenures in the league. And he did so at quarterback. When he called it quits in 1978 — coincidentally around the time the Vikings stopped reaching Super Bowls — he led NFL history in most meaningful quarterback metrics.

Honorable Mentions

6. Chris Doleman (DE)
7. Bobby Bell (LB)
8. Ron Yary (OT)
9. Kevin Williams (DT)
10. Adrian Peterson (RB)

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