The Vikings, barring another first-round trade, will be on the clock a little later on tonight with their 23rd overall pick. So what kind of talent can they expect to find in that slot? Let’s take a look at the history of the pick.
In the past decade, there have been several solid selections, five of whom were offensive linemen, at No. 23. But with a whopping total of three Pro Bowl nods among them, none of those 10 players have become stars.
Well, not yet at least. The defender the Vikings drafted with the 23rd pick three years ago has shown promise and a pair of pass rushers picked in 2014 and 2015 could become starters this upcoming season. So we’ll see.
Here is the list of the last 10 players to be selected 23rd overall:
- 2015: Shane Ray, DE, Broncos
- 2014: Dee Ford, DE, Chiefs
- 2013: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Vikings
- 2012: Riley Reiff, OT, Lions
- 2011: Danny Watkins, G, Eagles
- 2010: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Packers
- 2009: Michael Oher, OT, Ravens
- 2008: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers
- 2007: Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs
- 2006: Davin Joseph, G, Buccaneers
The good: For a brief period, both Bowe and Mendenhall were among the most productive players at their positions. Bowe had 15 touchdowns in 2010 and Mendenhall totaled 2,381 rushing yards in 2009 and 2010. But Joseph, who went to a pair of Pro Bowls before knee injuries derailed his career, was probably the best of this solid but unspectacular group.
The bad: Oher, Bulaga and Reiff have combined to start 222 games in the NFL and Oher and Bulaga both have won a Super Bowl. But none of them have been able to become a top-flight offensive tackle in the NFL, which is the hope when you draft a tackle at any point during the first round.
The ugly: Watkins was a fire sciences student at Butte College when he first got recruited to play football at age 22. Four years later, he was the Eagles’ first-round pick. Two years after that, he was out of the NFL.
Having the Vikings ever picked 23rd? Yes, twice. Floyd flashed promise in his first three NFL seasons but injuries have prevented him from becoming a standout defensive tackle. And back in 1965, when the 23rd pick was in the second round, the Vikings drafted wide receiver Lance Rentzel, who was frequently injured and caught just two passes in two seasons with the Vikings. Rentzel was cited in 1966 after exposing himself to two young girls, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was traded in 1967 to the Cowboys. He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns for Dallas in 1969, but was again charged for exposing himself and pleaded guilty.
Best 23rd pick in NFL history? Three Hall-of-Famers were taken 23rd overall — Bears linebacker Bill George in 1951, Raiders punter Ray Guy in 1973 and Browns tight end Ozzie Newsome in 1978. It’s a tough call, but we’ll go with Newsome, the athletic pass-catching tight end who along with peer Kellen Winslow Sr. revolutionized the position in the NFL.
Big thanks to Pro Football Reference for their invaluable Draft Finder tool.