The countdown to the Thursday night start of the NFL Draft is officially on. No, we don't have an actual clock ticking down the seconds on the wall here at the SportsData offices, but I wouldn't be opposed to the idea. Then again, I'm sure NFL Network and ESPN will have one gracing the corner of their screen soon enough.
As the countdown winds down, Vikings fans and media members continue to speculate who the team will select with their bevy of picks. Most of the focus centers on four positions of need: wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback and defensive line.
What's that? Teams don't draft for need? They just take the best player available regardless of position. Yeah, right. And Manti Te'o had a real online relationship with a real girl.
Speaking of Te'o, the whole catfish saga is water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned. It was all pretty dumb. He probably lied or made up some of it to cover his butt and I'm sure he was embarrassed by the whole mess. But who among us is proud of 100 percent of what they did during their college years? [crickets] If Te'o doesn't have some kind of compulsive lying disorder, I only care about whether he can play football. Likewise, if the Vikings or any other team think he can play, they likely won't downgrade him for the bizarre episode that played out last fall or the media frenzy that's sure to follow him this summer.
In fact, I would not be one bit surprised if Te'o were to wind up with the Vikings. And they'll have to take him with one of those first round picks if they want him, barring some trade maneuvers to move into the early second round. I think he goes in round one.
The talk of linebackers, wide receivers, corners and d-linemen got the VikesCentric crew reflecting on past first-round picks the Vikings have spent on the aforementioned positions identified most often as their need positions.
Let's take a glance back at Vikings history, shall we?
|Vikings First-round selections || || || |
| || || || |
|Defensive linemen ||Wide Receivers ||Linebackers ||Cornerbacks |
|Erasmus James (2005) ||Percy Harvin (2009) ||Chad Greenway (2006) ||D. Washington (1994) |
|Kenechi Udeze (2004) ||Troy Williamson (2005) ||Dwayne Rudd (1997) || |
|Kevin Williams (2003) ||Randy Moss (1998) ||Fred McNeill (1974) || |
|Chris Hovan (2000) ||Gene Washington (1967) ||Jeff Seimon (1972) || |
|Dimitrius Underwood (1999) ||Jack Snow (1965) || || |
|Duane Clemons (1996) || || || |
|Derrick Alexander (1995) || || || |
|Gerald Robinson (1986) || || || |
|Chris Doleman (1985) || || || |
|Keith Millard (1984) || || || |
|Doug Martin (1980) || || || |
|Randy Halloway (1978) || || || |
|James White (1976) || || || |
|Mark Mullaney (1975) || || || |
|Alan Page (1967) || || || |
|Jerry Shay (1966) || || || |
|Carl Eller (1964) || || || |
|Jim Dunaway (1972) || || || |
As you can see in the chart above, the Vikings have spent a lot of first-round picks on defensive linemen with varying degrees of success. The good includes three Hall of Famers (Eller, Page and Doleman) along with an All-Pro (Millard). The bad includes almost everyone else (I said almost), with special distinction going to Underwood as the worst Vikings draft pick of all time. In fact, the Vikings have spent more first-round draft picks on defensive linemen (18) than any position, but have not done so since Erasmus James in 2005. With Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen all entering the final year of their contracts, they may increase that number by one.
Here's a breakdown of Vikings first-round draft picks:
|Vikings First-round selections by position || || || |
|QB ||RB ||WR ||OL ||DL ||LB ||CB ||S |
|3 ||10 ||5 ||7 ||18 ||4 ||1 ||2 |
An entire list of Vikings first-round picks can be found here
If the Vikings do wind up taking Te'o, he will become just the fifth linebacker ever selected in the first-round by the team. Of the previous four linebackers selected, three turned out golden (Greenway, McNeill and Seimon). That's a nice precedent of success.
The Vikings history of first-round wide receivers has been all over the map: one bust (Williamson), one player who spent his entire career with a team other than the Vikings (Snow), one All-Pro who played just seven years (Washington)… and then the talented yet enigmatic Harvin and Moss.
The team's history at cornerbacks selected in the first-round is brief, as you can see. I had to double-check this one to be certain the count was correct. But it's true -- Dewayne Washington is the only cornerback the Vikings have ever selected in the first round. That's the lowest of any position aside from tight end, kicker and punter – on which they have never used a first-rounder.
Of course, none of this really matters to general manager Rick Speilman. I'm pretty certain he's not going to review the Vikings' first-round history by position and let it help dictate which players they'll select. It is, however, pretty interesting and pretty fun to look back at the breakdown. Besides, those among you who are card-carrying Vikings rubes might be able to use this data to stump your friends with some Vikings Draft Day trivia Thursday.
I'll see you at the Draft Party at Mall of America Field. Enjoy the festivities.