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Scott Studwell: The Catch That Others Passed On

Posted Sep 6, 2017

From the moment he was a ninth-round draft pick in 1977, Scott Studwell has been an integral part of the Vikings organization.

He is best known as a fierce, record-setting linebacker who spent 14 seasons in Purple racking up a franchise-record 1,981 total tackles.

Studwell was a scout for the Vikings in 1998 when they held the 21st pick in the NFL Draft. He was part of the Minnesota contingent that traveled to Detroit to see Marshall University play Mississippi in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26, 1997.

It was the only time Studwell saw Randy Moss play in college. It was all he needed to see.

“He could return kickoffs, he could return punts,” Studwell said. “He just had rare ability for a receiver that was that big and that tall and that long and that fast and that athletic.

“He could run after the catch and make people miss,” Studwell said. “He was just one of those rare talents that don’t come along very often. Luckily, we had him here.”

Studwell was in the draft room when 19 teams (Cincinnati had two picks in the top 20) passed on Moss.

He declined to reveal where Moss was ranked on Minnesota’s entire draft board, but the Vikings Ring of Honor member said the 2017 inductee to the Vikings Ring of Honor was undoubtedly the top player at his position.

Studwell described the vibe at Winter Park as Moss trickled down the draft board.

“Talent-wise, he was easily a top-10 pick. We had a lot of conversations about him … we just assumed once he started to drop that (potential character issues) were the reason why he dropped more so than the ability,” Studwell said. “Give (former Vikings Head Coach) Denny Green a lot of credit. As soon as we came on the clock, he said, ‘This is our guy, and we’re taking him.’ He was very resolved in the fact that he thought he could handle Randy, and he did. 

“As players fall, there is not as much risk at No. 21 [as there is in] taking a guy with the third or fourth pick in the draft,” Studwell added. “But (Moss’ fall in the draft) was not a reflection of his abilities. We got lucky. He fell to us, and we got a great player.”

Moss turned into one of the best wide receivers in franchise history, not to mention the entire league.

Even now, Studwell said there is no doubt Moss would be a top-five pick year after year.

“If you put him in any draft at any time, he would probably still be the top (wide receiver),” Studwell said. “Take some of the background stuff out of it and just look at the skill set, he’d be a top pick.

“Especially in today’s game with the way we throw the ball … he’d be a top player in our league,” Studwell added.