The 2014 NFL Draft is little over a away and a new class of Vikings is about to be born. While we count down the days until this year’s draft, let’s also count down the best draft choices in Vikings history.
Keep in mind, this is not a list of the five best players who were drafted by the Vikings. This list takes into account not only how good a particular player was for the franchise, but where they were drafted and the influence that player had on the League and the franchise.
5. LB Scott Studwell (9th round, 1977)
A Vikings linebacker for 14 seasons who was drafted all the way back in the ninth round, Studwell is now the standard by which all other Vikings ‘backers are measured. He is the franchise career leader in combined tackles (1,981), defensive tackles (1,928), single-season tackles (230 - 1981) and single-game tackles (24 at Detroit 11/17/85). One of the most enduring figures in Vikings history, Studwell’s presence on this list is also due to the fact that he’s remained with the club since his retirement and is now in his fourth decade with the Vikings, currently serving as Director of College Scouting.
4. WR Randy Moss (1st round, 1998)
Moss, who entered the ‘98 draft much-maligned and was finally selected by the Vikings 21st overall, put together one of the best debut seasons of all-time, hauling in a NFL rookie single-season record 17 touchdowns and averaging 19.0 yards per catch for a Vikings team that went 15-1 and scored a then-NFL record 556 points. An elite vertical threat throughout his 16-year career, Moss set the NFL single-season receiving record in 2007 with 23 scores and currently ranks second in NFL history behind only Jerry Rice with 156 touchdown receptions.
3. DT Alan Page (1st round, 1967)
A Hall of Famer (1988) and member of the vaunted Purple People Eaters, Page was a mainstay in a dominant Vikings defense that became legendary and led the franchise to four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Page was named to the Pro Bowl nine times in 12 seasons with the Vikings, and in 1971 he became the first defensive player to earn NFL MVP honors. Page played in 236 straight games and had a knack for the impact play, recording 148.5 sacks, 28 blocked kicks and 23 fumble recoveries.
2. QB Fran Tarkenton (3rd round, 1961)
One of the most legendary figures in Vikings history, Tarkenton was a part of the franchise’s first draft class and guided the franchise to three Super Bowls. At the time of his retirement, Tarkenton led the NFL in career passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdown passes. He was named the 1975 NFL MVP and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Peterson hit the ground running as a rookie by leading the NFC in rushing yards (1,341), setting a new NFL single-game rushing record of 296 yards, and helping the Vikings set a new team rushing record (2,634) yards. He earned Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2007 and was named MVP of the Pro Bowl. Peterson was also named the NFL’s MVP after the 2012 season when he became just the seventh player to top 2,000 rushing yards in a season. In 2013, Peterson became the third fastest to the 10,000-yard rushing mark and in seven seasons with the Vikings he has authored six of the franchise’s top seven rushing seasons.
OG Randall McDaniel (1st round, 1988): Arguably the best offensive guard in NFL history, McDaniel started 12 consecutive Pro Bowls (NFL record), started 202 consecutive games and is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
OT Ron Yary (1st round, 1968): Yary became the first offensive lineman in NFL history to be drafted first overall, and the Hall of Famer’s blend of size, speed and strength helped usher in a new era of offensive line play. He assumed a starting role midway through the 1969 season and was a fixture there for the rest of his career, missing only two games during his career due to injury.
CB Bobby Bryant (7th round, 1967): The Purple People Eaters had quarterbacks running for their life, but Bryant had them shaking their heads in disgust after throwing interceptions. Bryant, a steal in the seventh round and a member of the 50 Greatest Vikings, was a charismatic figure on fierce and intimidating Vikings clubs and led the team in interceptions four times while also serving as a dangerous kick returner.