The 5 Worst Draft Picks in Minnesota Vikings History

Former Vikings LB Dimitrius Underwood. Image Courtesy of MLive.com.

Earlier this week, we revealed the Minnesota Vikings’ five best draft picks in franchise history, from Randy Moss to Fran Tarkenton.

Minnesota sets sail on the 2024 NFL Draft in 22 days, hoping more men will jump onto that list, not the one below.

The 5 Worst Draft Picks in Minnesota Vikings History

Like every team, the Vikings have encountered some unfortunate draft picks in 63 years, 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
WR

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.


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

The Vikings got lucky 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. He’s still in the NFL, playing for the Baltimore Ravens as recently as last year, but is a free agent as of early April.

4. D.J. Dozier
RB

Draft Picks
MPS-USA TODAY Sports.


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

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

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

3. Erasmus James
DE

The Vikings Have 3 Draft
AMERICAN FOOTBALL 2007-2008 NFL Minnesota Vikings Erasmus James. Image credit: Imago. The Vikings drafted James in the 1st Round of the 2005 NFL Draft.


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, 19 years ago.

James participated 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
RB

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports.


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

The 24th overall pick in the 1971 NFL Draft, Hayden only played in the preseason for Minnesota. Hayden didn’t bank 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

Image Courtesy of The Trading Card Database. https://www.tcdb.com/


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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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

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