You know what they say. NFL pre-draft hype isn't a sprint. It's a marathon followed by an ironman triathlon followed by a crawl from New York City to San Francisco.
So we'll take a momentary break from trying to guess between Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon or what's behind Door No. 4 (trade down). I thought I'd try to test my Vikings draft knowledge by listing the Top 10 pleasant surprises the Vikings have uncovered on draft day since they opened for business in 1961.
This isn't a list for first-rounders. Nor does it include second- , third- or fourth-rounders. Hence, the word "surprises" in the title.
I'm sure fans who have followed the team longer than I have some nominees that have fallen through the cracks here. But at the very least, these are examples of the kinds of players new GM Rick Spielman is searching for in the later rounds:
Here's the list, in reverse order:
10, Dave Osborn, RB, 13th round (176th overall), 1965: Played 12 years, including 11 with the Vikings. Had 4,336 yards rushing and 1,412 yards receiving.
9, Wade Wilson, QB, 8th round (210th overall), 1981: Lasted 19 NFL seasons, the first 12 with the Vikings. Made one Pro Bowl, in 1988.
8, Ed McDaniel, LB, 5th round (125th overall), 1992: Had a 10-year career, eight as a starter, and was a team leader. He was listed at 5-foot-11, but must have been standing on a couple of phone books when they measured him.
7, Terry Allen, RB, 9th round (241st overall), 1990: He played only four years for the Vikings, but we list him here for his total body of work. A model example of perseverance, he had some of his best seasons after tearing the ACLs in both knees. Unfortunately for the Vikings, they came while Allen was a Redskin. He's listed as one of the 70 greatest Redskins ever.
6, Matt Birk, C, 6th round (173rd overall), 1998: Birk, now with the Ravens, is at 14 seasons and counting. He went from a backup tackle his first two years to a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro center.
5, Steve Jordan, TE, 7th round (179th overall), 1982: Played 13 years for the Vikings, making six Pro Bowls, earning two All-Pro selections and catching 498 passes.
4, Stu Voigt, TE, 10th round (260th overall), 1970: There's something about the Vikings and tight ends in the later rounds. Voigt played on three Super Bowl teams in 11 seasons with the Vikings.
3, Scott Studwell, LB, 9th round (250th overall), 1977: There's a reason Studwell is a voice of reason when it comes to placing an appropriate amount of emphasis on all the measurables that come out of the combine. Studwell had none of them coming out of college. But he became a tackling machine during a 14-year career with the team. He set the record for tackles in a career (1,981), a season (230) and a game (24). He also became an All-Pro three times.
2, Mick Tingelhoff, C, undrafted, 1962: We didn't say one actually had to be drafted to make this list. In 1962, there were 20 rounds to the draft. And not one team took Tingelhoff. The Vikings signed him, and all he did was play 17 seasons, start 240 games, make All-Pro five times, get his number (53) retired and end up in the team's ring of honor.
1, John Randle, DT, undrafted, 1990: NFL teams had sophisticated college scouting departments by the time 1990 rolled around. Yet Randle went unpicked through 12 rounds. Today, he's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: Honorable mention goes to the team's 17th-round pick in 1973. With the 429th pick that year, the Vikings took a tight end from Minnesota named Dave Winfield. I wonder whatever happened to that guy.