The Vikings and GM Rick Spielman haven’t just established a reputation as wheelers and dealers with their work in the past three NFL drafts.
As it turns out, they have amassed first-round picks at an unprecedented rate.
The Vikings had two first-round picks in 2012, three more in 2013 and another two this year — a total of seven in a three-year span. It made me wonder how many other teams have done that, so I did a search of the past 25 NFL drafts from 1990-2014.
Exactly zero other teams have had as many as seven first-round picks in a three-year span. In fact, only three teams have had six first-round picks in such a short span.
What does it mean? Well, it’s far from the only blueprint for future success, but amassing picks has turned out beautifully for some. Consider:
• The three other teams with six first-round picks in a three-year span are: Dallas (one in 1990, three in 1991, two in 1992); the Jets (four in 2000, one each in 2001 and 2002); and Tampa Bay (two each in 1995, 1996 and 1997).
It didn’t do the Jets a ton of good. But you’ll recall that the Cowboys amassed that bounty of draft picks thanks in large part to the Herschel Walker trade with the Vikings. You probably also know that they turned those picks into some major talent: among their six first-round picks in that span were RB Emmitt Smith, WR Alvin Harper and DT Russell Maryland — key pieces that would help Dallas win three Super Bowls shortly thereafter.
Similarly, the Buccaneers used that stockpile of picks to choose future Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp along with running back Warrick Dunn. All were essential in helping turning Tampa Bay around and bringing that franchise a Super Bowl during the 2002 season.
That said, three teams during that 25-year span never have had more than three first-round picks in a three-year span (the rest of the previously unmentioned NFL teams had either four or five during their best stretch). Two of them are the Steelers and Giants, who have won five of the past 25 Super Bowls.
So clearly you have to do more than just accumulate top picks. You have to draft well. You have to find depth and hidden talent in later rounds and free agency. And you need some luck.
But amassing first-round talent, like the Vikings are doing, can certainly help.