The 70s temperatures, bright sun, and immense amounts of yard work pulled at me throughout the Draft this year. The winter, to quote Phil Connors, was "cold, grey, and would last the rest of our lives". Thankfully, the first two days of the draft were in the evening, as I prepared myself for three days of NFL pleasure.
But then Minnesota went and ruined it all.
First, they gave me too much fun by drafting three times in the first round, an event duplicated only once: 1967. You remember that year? Minnesota was coming off a 4-9-1 season, and decided that Fran Tarkenton was worth more traded then kept. Over the next few drafts Minnesota compiled a group of players that led the Vikings to four Super Bowls in eight years. Included in those obtained draft picks were Ron Yary and Ed White, two of the best OL in Minnesota history.
That 1967 three first round picks listed as: RB Clinton Jones (2nd overall), WR Gene Washington (8), and DT Alan Page (15). Jones would lead the team in rushing in 1971, total 2,000 yards in six seasons, and was gone after 1972. Washington was our top receiver in yards from 1967 until 1970. He too stayed until 1972. Page, as most know, went on to a HOF career, MVP, and was here for all four Super Bowls (no coincidence).
Obviously, we benefited greatly from the 1967 draft.
This year's three selections were originally two at the beginning of the Draft. When Minnesota selected Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida, with the 23rd selection, the media was praising our choice. After the combine, Floyd had risen up the charts to a top five pick, but then, like every year, was a player which fell for no apparent reason. Two picks later, CB Xavier Rhodes, FSU, was chosen 25th. Rhodes had also been expecting to be chosen higher in the round. Another star recruit from Florida State ends up in Minnesota. Like a pipeline.
Two important needs met nicely in round one. Time to reflect, and anticipate the upcoming Friday night picks in rounds two and three. We still needed to address WR and LB. The draft depth charts showed there was plenty of talent at both.
And then blind-sided. No, not the movie, but GM Rick Spielman. He goes and trades all the Friday picks to get one more on Thursday.The next few minutes seemed an eternity... The media was blasting Manti T'eo across the screen. Certainly Minnesota had given up the picks to fill its' most glaring hole: middle linebacker. I kept wondering how big a deal is it to create a media hoax about a girlfriend? That does not mean you cannot tackle, right? My mind drifted to Demetrius Underwood...
And then we chose Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. Now I could not get Randy Moss out of my head. Patterson is a raw, dynamic deep threat. He is big. He is fast. And what do you want to bet he will wear #84?
Of course, most fans exalted. Three picks in one round. Three ready-to-go athletes for a team that had improved more than any other in Minnesota history, going from 3-13 to a playoff team at 10-6, having leap-frogged both Detroit and Chicago, and had beaten the Packers with a young Christian Ponder at the helm.
Never mind that I now had nothing to look forward to on Friday now. Friday was spent in quiet reflection.
Minnesota finished on Saturday with a flurry of late picks. We paired two linebackers from Penn State, a punter and guard from UCLA. Throw in a second Seminole and a North Carolina guard and it was over.
What to think?
Eight times Minnesota has had multiple first-round picks. The last, the previous year, resulted in two bona-fide future stars in Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith. Only once before has Minnesota had back-to-back multiple 1st round picks, and that was 1994-95. Among those picks was OT Korey Stringer and OG Todd Stuessie. Minnesota would soon go on a five-year playoff run with the 1998 team being considered one of the greatest in our history.
Only once has multiple first-round selections not been a good thing. In 2005, Minnesota selected Troy Williamson with the 7th pick, and Erasmus James with the 18th. Their combined ineffectiveness helped lose Mike Tice his job and perpetuate a three year absence from the playoffs (2005-07). Luckily, the Vikings rebounded in following drafts by selecting LB Chad Greenway (06), RB Adrian Peterson (07) and WR Percy Harvin (09).
General Manager Jim Finks (1964-1973) was the mastermind of the building of a purple dynasty that owes much of its' legacy to the 1967 Draft and the Tarkenton trades (to and from New York) and subsequent picks the next two years. Now Spielman, our GM who has overseen or controlled the last few drafts, is laying the foundation to develop a like dynasty. The 2013 Draft being much like that in 1967.
Time to whip up a batch of pure purple kool-aid.