Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Recent risk-reward of drafting receivers in the first round

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: April 9, 2013 - 12:31 PM

Even though Greg Jennings has traveled west to collect quite the pile of Zygi Wilf's cash, the Vikings still need another elite receiver if they want to reintroduce Bill Musgrave's offense to the perfectly legal downfield pass and catch. (Jennings is good, but not quite as effective while wearing two and three defenders in passing situations).

By all accounts, this draft is crammed full of elite receivers (warning: Williamson, T., also was considered elite many an April ago) and the Vikings have the 23rd and 25th overall picks. So, bingo, problem solved, eh?

Well ... 

There's something about receivers and the first round of the draft that scares fans, coaches, general managers and owners more than a 250-yard carry over water to a small green. Whether receiver truly is the riskiest position to gamble on in the first round hasn't been mathematically confirmed, but those who have been through Troy Williamson being taken seventh overall in 2005, Matt Jones being taken 14 spots later, or Charles Rogers being taken second in 2003 will swear the chances of slicing one into the water well short of the green are higher when swinging for a receiver.

"The receivers tend to be high profile anyway," said former longtime NFL executive Bill Polian. "So when they fail, it's a big issue."

The same could be said for any other position in the first round. All of those players, even the quarterbacks now, are expected to start immediately.

But, yes, it is possible to clear that water and reach the green with the right swing. Even one at No. 23 (Dwayne Bowe) or lower (Roddy White, No. 27).

Here's a look at the receivers taken in the first round of the past 10 NFL drafts. There have been 38 receivers taken. Eleven of them have played in at least one Pro Bowl. Eight of them -- Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, White, Calvin Johnson, Bowe, Percy Harvin, A.J. Green and Julio Jones -- are among the best receivers in the league today. Five of them became busts, although more could follow:

2003 draft

First-round picks: 3.

Pro Bowlers: 1. Andre Johnson, Houston, No. 3 overall.

Busts: 1. Charles Rogers, Detroit, No. 2 overall.

2004 draft

First-round picks: 7.

Pro Bowlers: 2.  Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona, No. 3; Roy Williams, Detroit, No. 7.

Busts: 1. Rahaun Woods, San Francisco, No. 31.

2005 draft

First-round picks: 6.

Pro Bowlers: 2. Braylon Edwards, Cleveland, No. 3; Roddy White, Atlanta, No. 27.

Busts: 2. Troy Williamson, Vikings, No. 7; Matt Jones, Jacksonville, No. 21.

2006 draft

First-round picks: 1. (Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh, No. 25).

Pro Bowlers: 0.

Busts: 0.

2007 draft

First-round picks: 6.

Pro Bowlers: 2. Calvin Johnson, Detroit, No. 2; Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City, No. 23.

Busts: 1. Craig "Buster" Davis, San Diego, No. 30.

2008 draft

First-round picks: 0.

2009 draft

First-round picks: 6.

Pro Bowlers: 1. Percy Harvin, Vikings, No. 21.

Busts: Too early to tell (Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland, No. 7).

2010 draft

First-round picks: 2.

Pro Bowlers: 1. Demaryius Thomas, Denver, No. 22.

Busts: None.

2011 draft

First-round picks: 3.

Pro Bowlers: 2. A.J. Green, Cincinnati, No. 4; Julio Jones, Atlanta, No. 6.

Busts: Too early to tell (Jonathan Baldwin, Kansas City, No. 26).

2012 draft

First-round picks: 4.

Pro Bowlers: 0.

Busts: Too early to tell (A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco, No. 30).

 

 

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