TODAY'S LOOK BACK: The 72nd and 96th overall picks.
Looking back on previous NFL drafts for a better understanding of the crapshoot nature of this business is oh so much easier and more fun to do than pretending to know how the next wave of draft picks will perform. We've already looked back through the past 20 drafts for some perspective on the picks the Vikings hold in the fourth (108), fifth (148), sixth (184) and seventh (223) rounds of next week's draft. Today, we move up to the fourth round to do the same with the 72nd and 96th overall picks. The 96th pick is part of last year's Percy Harvin trade.
Pro Bowlers picked Nos. 72 and 96 since 1994: 1. In 1998, the Eagles selected linebacker Jeremiah Trotter 72nd overall.
Have the Vikings picked Nos. 72 or 96 since 1994?: Yes. In 2007, they selected cornerback Marcus McCauley 72nd overall. That was the first year with Rick Spielman orchestrating the team's draft. McCauley is one of Spielman's biggest misses, although he didn't have final say until 2012. McCauley was a bust that lasted two disappointing seasons in Minnesota and two more years with five other teams before his career ended. Making the pick even worse: The Texans took receiver-returner Jacoby Jones one pick later. Jones, of course, moved on to Baltimore in 2012 and became one of the stars of the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII win. Then the Ravens took three-time All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda 86th overall.
Ouch 1: In 1996, the Steelers took linebacker Steve Conley 72nd overall. He lasted 21 games over three years. Fourteen picks later, the Patriots selected linebacker Tedy Bruschi. And if that wasn't bad enough, the Eagles took Terrell Owens three picks after that. Bruschi played 13 seasons and was All-Pro twice. T.O. played 15 seasons, scored 153 touchdowns and was All-Pro five times.
Ouch 1a: In 1995, the Eagles took defensive end Greg Jefferson 72nd overall. He played six years and made 41 starts. Two picks later, the Patriots took running back Curtis Martin, a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Ouch 2: In 2001, the Packers took linebacker Torrance Marshalll 72nd overall. He made two starts over four years. Two picks later, the Panthers grabbed receiver Steve Smith. Smith will enter his 14th season with 12,197 yards receiving and five Pro Bowls.
Ouch 3: In 2012, the Dolphins took defensive end Olivier Vernon 72nd overall. He's a decent player with 14 starts in two seasons. But, unfortunately for the Dolphins, the Seahawks were able to take quarterback Russell Wilson 75th overall. And the Eagles were able to grab quarterback Nick Foles at No. 88.
Other highlights/lowlights of the Nos. 72 and 96 picks since 1994:
1997: With the 72nd pick, the Raiders took center/long snapper Adam Treu, who lasted 10 years and made 44 starts. One pick later, the Dolphins selected Jason Taylor, a four-time All-Pro and the league's defensive player of the year in 2006.
1999: The Dolphins took center Grey Ruegamer 72nd overall. One pick later, the Steelers got four-time All-Pro linebacker Joey Porter.
2002: The Bears took cornerback Roosevelt Williams 72nd overall. Nineteen picks later, the Eagles grabbed running back Brian Westbrook, a two-time All-Pro.
2004: The Packers took defensive tackle Donnell Washington 72nd overall. Nine picks later, the Redskins took tight end Chris Cooley, whose 429 catches are a Redskins franchise record. Nine picks after that, the Falcons selected quarterback Matt Schaub. At No. 96, the Bengals took Purdue linebacker Landon Johnson. He played seven years. Two picks later, the Chargers took Johnson's college teammate, Shaun Phillips, who has one Pro Bowl and is entering his 11th season.
2005: The Lions took cornerback Stanley Wilson 72nd overall. He lasted three years. Two picks later, the Giants grabbed defensive end Justin Tuck, a two-time All-Pro now in his 10th season.
2008: The Bills took defensive end Chris Ellis 72nd overall. One pick later, the Chiefs selected two-time All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles. Ellis played three years and made 13 tackles.
2009: The Jaguars got nose tackle Terrance Knighton 72nd overall. "Pot Roast" signed with Denver before last season and helped the Broncos reach the Super Bowl.
2010: The Bills took defensive end Alex Carrington 72nd overall. He's now with the Rams. Nineteen picks later, the 49ers took three-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Four picks after that, the Saints picked All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham.