When Vikings GM Rick Spielman suggests that left tackles might not be as high a priority in the draft as some people say they should be, he might as well be talking about Jermon Bushrod.
Bushrod is an example of one of those "functional" left tackles that Spielman has said teams can win with as long as they have offensive playmakers and a quarterback who has a thorough understanding of the offense.
Bushrod is a Pro Bowl player who helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLV. He also was a fourth-rounder and the 125th pick of the 2007 NFL draft.
That's not to suggest the Vikings will or should pass on Matt Kalil at the third overall pick. But it does illustrate Spielman's point (even though the point also requires having a quarterback of Drew Brees' level).
The Vikings have three picks in the fourth round, starting with the 98th overall. Spielman has done well in this round, acquiring Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and Christian Ballard.
Over the past 10 drafts, there have been 23 fourth-rounders who were still on the board at No. 98 that went on to play in a Pro Bowl. That includes seven in 2006.
Two of the Saints' best offensive linemen -- Bushrod and All-Pro guard Jahri Evans -- were taken in the fourth round in back-to-back years. Evans went No. 108 in 2006.
The Broncos did well for themselves in the fourth round in 2006. With the 119th pick, they took Brandon Marshall. Seven picks later, they took Elvis Dumervil.
Two players picked with the 98th pick -- Shaun Phillips by the Chargers in 2004 and tight end Owen Daniels by the Texans in 2006 -- became Pro Bowlers.
Here's a look at the 98th picks since 2002:
2002: Dennis Johnson, Cardinals.
Could have had: David Garrard, QB, Jaguars, 108th; Larry Foote, LB, Steelers, 128th.
2003: Dennis Weathersby, CB, Bengals.
Could have had: Terrence McGee, CB, Bills.111th; Asante Samuel, CB, Patriots, 120th; Brandon Lloyd, WR, 49ers, 124th.
2004: Shaun Phillips, OLB, Chargers.
Could have had: He became a Pro Bowl players, but also on the board were: Nathan Vasher, CB, Bears, 110th; Jared Allen, DE, Chiefs, 126th.
2005: Leroy Hill, LB, Seahawks.
Could have had: Marion Barber III, RB, Cowboys, 109th; Jerome Mathis, WR, Texans, 114th.
2006: Owen Daniels, TE, Texans.
Could have had: He became a Pro Bowler, but also on the board were: Jahri Evans, G, Saints, 108th; Leon Washington, RB, Jets, 117th; Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots, 118th; Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos, 119th; Elvis Dumervil, DE, Broncos, 126th.
2007: Quinn Pitcock, DT, Colts.
Could have had: Jermon Bushrod, OT, Saints, 125th; Le'Ron McClain, FB, Ravens, 137th.
2008: Thomas DeCoud, S, Falcons.
Could have had: Josh Sitton, OT, Packers, 135th.
2009: Chase Coffman, TE, Bengals.
Could have had: T.J. Lang, G, Packers, 109th.
2010: Mike Johnson, G, Falcons.
Could have had: Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings, 100th; Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers, 101st; Geno Atkins, DT, Bengals, 120th.
2011: Brandon Hogan, CB, Panthers.
Could have had: Too early to tell.
Two of the Saints' best offensive linemen