ADVERTISEMENT

Vikings' QB drafting drought precedes Spielman

  • Blog Post by: Mark Craig
  • April 9, 2014 - 11:03 AM

With the 29th overall pick in their first year of existence, your Minnesota Vikings selected Fran Tarkenton, quarterback, Georgia.

It's been pretty much downhill ever since as far as the Vikings and the drafting of quarterbacks are concerned.

Since the NFL was a 14-team league back in 1961, Tarkenton was a third-round pick even though he was 29th overall. All he did was last 18 seasons, 13 with the Vikings, and throw 342 touchdowns, pile up 47,003 passing yards and make the Hall of Fame.

However ...

Since Tarkenton was selected, the Vikings have taken 24 more swings at drafting quarterbacks. Based on our research of the stats at profootballreference.com, 12 of those 24 quarterbacks (yep, 50 percent) never played a regular-season game for the Vikings. And if you include Bill Cappleman (1970) and Gino Torretta (1993), who each played only one game in one season, that's 14 of 24 picks (58.3 percent) who played fewer than two regular-season GAMES for the Vikings.

Next month's draft will be the Vikings' 54th NFL draft. They've NEVER selected a quarterback in the top 10. Never. That could change with the Vikings picking eighth and -- rumor has it -- in desperate need of a young franchise QB.

It took the Vikings until their 17th draft to take a quarterback in the first round. Tommy Kramer, at No. 27 overall, was a success, lasting 13 years with the Vikings and 14 in the NFL.

It would be another 22 years before the Vikings dipped into the first round for a quarterback, taking Daunte Culpepper 11th overall. Fans have always had a love-hate relationship with Culpepper, but he was a good pick. He played six years for the Vikings, would have won the 2004 league MVP if not for Peyton Manning, and would have had an even better career if not for the devastating knee injury in 2005.

With Culpepper at the height of his career and still months from blowing out his knee, the Vikings had no use for a guy named Aaron Rodgers when the 2005 draft rolled around. So with the seventh and 18th  picks overall, the Vikings took Troy Williamson and Erasmus James, respectively. The Packers took Rodgers seven picks later.

Doh!

The guy Rodgers replaced in Green Bay, a fella named Favre, contributed to the next mistake the Vikings made when it comes to QBs and first rounds. With Favre ending his two-year run in Minnesota with the first convincing retirement talk of his career, the Vikings knew they needed a quarterback.

The NFL lockout prevented them from signing their typical stopgap big-name veteran quarterback before the draft was held. So the Vikings essentially panicked and reached for Christian Ponder at No. 12 and later complicated the mistake by signing an out-of-gas Donovan McNabb. And while the still-active and still-Purple Ponder still has a chance to prove himself worthy of a first-round pick, let's just say the odds are stacked heavily against him. The Vikings haven't said it's over for Ponder, but you might have noticed that their GM, head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach have spent a month or so kicking the tires on every top college quarterback from coast to coast.

So, to recap, that's 53 drafts and three first-round QBs taken by the Vikings. Here's the breakdown:

Quarterbacks drafted by the Vikings since joining the NFL in 1961: 25.

Quarterbacks drafted by the Vikings in the top 10 since 1961: 0.

Quarterbacks drafted in the first round by the Vikings since 1961: 3.

Tommy Kramer (27th overall, 1977), Daunte Culpepper (11th overall, 1999), Christian Ponder (12th overall, 2011).

Quarterbacks drafted by Vikings who never played a regular-season game in the NFL: 7.

Mike McFarland (1961, Round 20); Mailon Kent (1962, Round 20), John Hankinson (1965, Round 8), Jim Haynie (1968, Round 15), Bill Salmon (1976, Round 10), Chad May (1995, Round 4), John David Booty (2008, Round 5).

Quarterbacks drafted by the Vikings who never played a regular-season game for the Vikings:  12.

The seven immediately above as well as Brian Dowling (1969, Round 11), Neil Graff (1972, Round 16), Mike Wells (1973, Round 4), Brent Pease (1987, Round 11), Tyler Thigpen (2007, Round 7).

Quarterbacks drafted by the Vikings who played only one season for the Vikings: 2.

Bill Cappleman (1970, Round 2, appeared in 1 game, attempted seven passes), Gino Torretta (1993, Round 7, appeared in 1 game, did not attempt a pass).

THE GOOD: It hasn't been all gloom and doom since the Tarkenton pick. Wade Wilson, an eighth-round pick in 1981, played 17 NFL seasons, including 10 with the Vikings. He went 27-21 as a Vikings starter. ... Brad Johnson, a ninth-round pick in 1992, played 15 NFL seasons, seven over two stints with the Vikings. He won a Super Bowl, but not with the Vikings, of course.

THE BAD: The 2006 draft will be remembered as a relatively weak one overall. But trading up in the second round for a small-school prospect named Tarvaris Jackson was the impetus (along with Culpepper's injury in 2005) behind the current state of the Vikings' quarterback situation. But, hey, without a swing and a miss on T-Jack, we never would have experience Favreapalooza three years later.

THE UGLY: It was a much different era. College players weren't scrutinized before the draft the way they are now. Plus, there was no free agency and fewer situational players, so depth wasn't as big a deal. A group of veterans would stick together for years while draft picks were essentially tossed aside. So keep that in mind as we throw out the Cappleman pick in 1970. He was the 51st overall pick out of Florida State. According to profootballreference.com, he played two NFL seasons, including one for the Vikings. He attempted seven passes and completed four in his one and only appearance for the Vikings. According to Vikings.com, Cappleman was traded for a fourth-round pick in 1973. The Vikings used that pick on another quarterback, Mike Wells, who never played for the Vikings and lasted only seven games in one NFL season.

© 2014 Star Tribune