The Top 5 Draft Picks in Vikings History

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

Minnesota has the fourth-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 63 seasons.

The Top 5 Draft Picks in Vikings History

Along the way, countless draft picks have impacted the team significantly, 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

Vikings Throttle 49ers

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

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

It almost feels foolish 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 fans 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 guy.

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

4. Randall McDaniel

vikings history

Pro Bowls: 12
1st-Team All-Pro:
Drafted: Round 1 (1988)
Total Seasons as 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 an ideal 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

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Pro Bowls: 6
1st-Team All-Pro:
Drafted: Round 1 (1964)
Total Seasons as 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 Golden Gopher before a Viking, only enhancing the lore of his robust resume.

2. Alan Page

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

Page ranks eighth all-time in sacks with 148.5, a supernatural 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

Minnesota Vikings tackle Frank Myers (74) tries to block Green Bay Packers defensive end Ezra Johnson (78) as he chases the quarterback Fran Tarkenton (10) on Oct. 22, 1978, at the Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Green Bay Packers 21-7. © Green Bay Press-Gazette / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Pro Bowls: 9
All-Pro: 1

Drafted: Round 3 (1961)
Total Seasons as 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 discovery 62 years ago — not Round 1.
  3. His longevity is unrivaled among QBs in Vikings history.

Tarkenton played a career equivalent to Harrison Smith + Brian O’Neill’s 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)

And yes — Justin Jefferson will soon join this list.

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