This will be the 10th time in 57 years of existence that the Vikings have not had a selection in the first round of the NFL draft. There were two other times when the first-rounder signed elsewhere, and another occasion when a Californian refused to play in Minnesota.
No matter the rhetoric coming for Winter Park, history tells us a draft without a No. 1 is more likely to be a dry well than a gusher.
Here’s that history for the Vikings, and with the now-required draft grades:
1962: Coach Norm Van Brocklin was calling the shots and in 1961 he traded what would be the No. 2 overall selection in 1962 to the New York Giants for George Shaw, a veteran quarterback. Shaw didn’t make it through the first half of the Vikings’ first game before being replaced by rookie Fran Tarkenton.
Best selection: LSU linebacker Roy Winston, fourth round. Grade: F.
1963: First-rounder Jim Dunaway (DT) signed with Buffalo of the AFL and second-rounder Bobby Bell (LB) with Kansas City. Talk about cheap … the early Vikings. (Note: In 1998, Dunaway was charged with murdering his ex-wife but was not indicted.)
Best selection: Northwestern WR Paul Flatley, fourth round. Grade: F.
1965: Receiver Jack Snow, the eighth overall choice, played at Notre Dame but was raised in Long Beach, Calif. He wasn’t going to sign with the Vikings because of an aversion to playing at Met Stadium. General Manager Jim Finks traded him to the Rams and received Gary Larsen, a Purple People Eater, in return.
Best selection: North Dakota RB Dave Osborn, 13th round. Grade: D.
1969: In a trade disaster rivaling the Herschel Walker deal, the Vikings traded two No. 1s — seventh overall in 1968, 17th overall in 1969 — to New Orleans for failed quarterback Gary Cuozzo.
(Note: The Vikings also had the No. 1 overall selection in 1968 and took Hall of Fame OT Ron Yary).
Best selection: California OG Ed White, second round. Grade: C (thanks to White).
1981: The Vikings traded the 18th overall choice to Baltimore for second-rounders WR Mardye McDole and RB Jarvis Redwine. This was the first strong indication of General Manager Mike Lynn’s aversion to paying market price for first-rounders.
Best selections: Tennessee OT Tim Irwin, third round, and East Texas QB Wade Wilson, eighth round. Grade: D.
1984: The USFL was in business and Lynn lost the 13th overall choice, the tremendous DT Keith Millard, to the Jacksonville Bulls.
(Note: Lynn rallied hard as the USFL was dying, paying off Jacksonville to get Millard for 1985, and landing Hall of Fame OT Gary Zimmerman and the terrific WR Anthony Carter for 1986).
Best selections: Baylor RBs Alfred Anderson, third round, and Allen Rice, fifth round. Grade: Incomplete (pending Millard’s one-year late paperwork).
1989: The Vikings warmed up for the Walker trade by sending the 24th overall choice to Pittsburgh for LB Mike Merriweather. LB David Braxton was the Vikings’ opening salvo (54th overall) in a draft of historic awfulness.
Best selection: None. Grade: F-minus.
1990: There were no first- or second-rounders due to the Herschel trade. The Vikings’ first selections were TE Mike Jones and DE Marion Hobby in the third round.
Best selection: Clemson RB Terry Allen, ninth round. Grade: F.
1991: Again, the first- and second-rounders went to Dallas from the Walker trade. The Vikings did wind up with three productive players in LB Carlos Jenkins, WR Jake Reed and S Todd Scott.
Best selection: Grambling’s Reed, third round. Grade: C-minus.
1992: As the final payment for Herschel, the Vikings gave up their first, a second and their third to Dallas. The Vikings’ first selection was DE Robert Harris, who had more success with the Giants than in Minnesota.
Best selections: Clemson LB Ed McDaniel, fifth round; Florida State QB Brad Johnson, ninth round. Grade: C-minus.
2008: The Vikings gave up a first and two thirds to Kansas City for DE Jared Allen, and tossed in a fourth-rounder to move up four spots to take S Tyrell Johnson in the second round.
Best selection: Notre Dame C John Sullivan, sixth round. Grade: D-minus.
2010: The Vikings were picking 30th, and moved to early in the second round (34th) in a trade with Detroit. The two second-rounders were CB Chris Cook (bust) and RB Toby Gerhart (meh).
Best selection: Southern Cal DE Everson Griffen, fourth round. Grade: D-plus.
Remember, we’re just grading what the Vikings wound up with as draft choices in those seasons without a No. 1. And this should bring with it this warning:
General Manager Rick Spielman will tell you the Vikings did fine without being in the first round, but it’s very likely he will be lying. Of course, with Rick, it’s always very likely that … ah, never mind.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org