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Best of the Vikings Best Draft Picks: Rounds 2 & 3

The Vikings selected 61 players in the second rounds and 50 in third rounds of the first 60 NFL Drafts in franchise history.

But who are the best picks in each of those rounds?'s Eric Smith, Lindsey Young and Craig Peters will try to answer this by presenting cases for three players in the second round and three more in the third round to continue a series that began with the first round on April 7. After this installment, we'll have the fourth and fifth (April 21) and sixth, seventh and "beyond" (April 28).

First-round recap: Mossed

Even though we agreed that Hall of Famers Randy Moss, Alan Page and Randall McDaniel were the top three, we included future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and enshrinees Carl Eller and Chris Doleman in the Riddle poll choices.

Like much of his career, Moss ran away with it. He garnered 48 percent of the 1,364 votes cast in the Riddle poll. The chasm was even wider on Twitter, with Moss yielding 85.8 percent of the vote:

Best of the Second Round

The Vikings have had quite a run of success in the second round over the past decade, beginning with tight end Kyle Rudolph in 2011 and continuing with Eric Kendricks (2015), Mackensie Alexander (2016), Dalvin Cook (2017), Brian O'Neill (2018), Irv Smith, Jr. (2019) and Ezra Cleveland (2020).

With that hit rate, one has to wonder if the Vikings will find a way into the second round this year. Minnesota has 10 total selections but none in the second round right now because of a trade last year that brought Yannick Ngakoue here for a six-game stint.

The three players we landed on (listed chronologically by year selected) for the second round are Ed White, Matt Blair and Sammy White. Be sure to vote below.

Note: We did not include anyone currently on the Vikings roster in our deliberations because their on-field contributions to the organization are ongoing.

View the Vikings rookie records for the most starts in a season.

Ed White, G | No. 39 Overall, 1969 | Years with Vikings: 1969-77

White was the only member of the 1969 Vikings draft class to make the roster, which meant the California native had a lot of doughnut duty. He appeared in all 14 regular-season games but didn't start for the squad that secured the NFL Championship and advanced to Super Bowl IV.

White cracked the starting lineup in 1970 and helped Minnesota's impressive run that was highlighted by three more Super Bowl appearances. He totaled 93 starts in the 122 regular-season contests he played for the Vikings and earned three consecutive selections to the Pro Bowl from 1975-77.

In 1978, White was traded to the Chargers, which brought running back Rickey Young to the Vikings. Young led the NFL with 88 receptions that season, and White embarked on another impressive showing on the West Coast. He started 117 of 119 regular-season games for the Chargers and garnered another selection to the Pro Bowl.

While this evaluation is based on impact with the Vikings, it's hard to dissociate White's collective body of work in the NFL that includes his naming as one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.

— Craig Peters

View photos of Vikings legend and Ring of Honor member, Matt Blair.

Matt Blair, LB | No. 51 Overall, 1974 | Years with Vikings: 1974-85

I'm pretty confident in my pick for best second-round draft selection in team history.

Matt Blair was chosen out of Iowa State by Minnesota in 1974, and he went on to play all 12 of his NFL seasons in Purple. He started 130 of the 160 regular-season games he played and racked up 1,452 tackles, the second-most in team history.

Only two linebackers – Roy Winston and Scott Studwell – have played more games for Minnesota to date.

Blair appeared in six straight Pro Bowls (1977-82) and additionally was named First-Team All-Pro by The Associated Press in 1980. He holds the Vikings record for blocked kicks with 20 (16 PATs, 3 field goals and 1 punt) and recorded more sacks (23) and interceptions (16) than any linebacker in team history.

Blair's tremendous impact on the Vikings franchise is undeniable. He was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2012 and is a member of the 50 Greatest Vikings.

– Lindsey Young

Sammy White, WR | No. 54 Overall, 1976 | Years with Vikings: 1976-85

For all the great wide receivers the Vikings have had in team history, it's White who holds the single-game record for most receiving yards. He accomplished that feat as a rookie in 1976 when he racked up 210 yards in a home win against the Lions. White went on to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors that season as he finished with 51 catches for 906 yards and 10 scores.

The Louisiana native played all 10 of his NFL seasons in Purple, cracking the 1,000-yard mark once, and tallying 700-plus yards in each of his first six years. Also a member of the 50 Greatest Vikings, White currently ranks fourth in team history with 50 touchdown catches, is fifth with 6,400 receiving yards and ranks ninth with 393 receptions.

– Eric Smith

Near miss? This list could have included Hall of Famer Bobby Bell, the Gophers star who was drafted by Minnesota in the 1963 NFL Draft (second round) and by Kansas City in the 1963 AFL Draft (seventh round). Bell, however, opted to sign with the Chiefs before starting 159 of 168 regular-season games played.

Best of the Third Round

The Vikings first use of a third-round pick wound up being arguably the best selection made in any round in franchise history. Fran Tarkenton set a high bar. We'll follow him on this listing with Tim Irwin and Henry Thomas. All three are members of the 50 Greatest Vikings.

View photos of Vikings legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton.

Fran Tarkenton, QB | No. 29 Overall, 1961 | Years with Vikings: 1961-66; 1972-78

Tarkenton was the third player the Vikings took in their 20-man draft class in 1961, but no player made more of an impact than the quarterback. He posted a 27-48-4 record in his first six seasons in the league but was traded to the Giants after the 1966 season, which set up a windfall of picks for Minnesota, including selections used on Hall of Fame tackle Ron Yary in 1968 and Ed White in 1969.

He spent five seasons in New York before he was traded back to the Vikings, where he helped the franchise orchestrate one of the best runs in league history.

Tarkenton led Minnesota to three Super Bowl appearances in a four-year span, undoubtedly cementing himself as the greatest quarterback in Vikings history. But it wasn't just the wins that helped Tarkenton's resumé. His ability to throw and scramble (and then scramble some more) helped usher in a new era of mobile quarterbacks that are still seen around the league today. At the time of his retirement in 1978, he ranked atop the league in passing yards (47,003), touchdown passes (342), attempts (6,467) and completions (3,686).

A nine-time Pro Bowler and the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1975, Tarkenton was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and went into the Vikings Ring of Honor upon its creation in 1998.

– Eric Smith

Tim Irwin, T | No. 74 Overall, 1981 | Years with Vikings: 1981-93

After backing up Yary as a rookie, Irwin started every game — 181 regular-season contests — for Minnesota the rest of his career.

In fact, the only things that kept Irwin from suiting up for a full 16 of each of his final 12 seasons with Minnesota were strikes in the 1982 and 1987 seasons.

Irwin's career spanned multiple transitions for the Vikings, including the final season at Metropolitan Stadium and the move inside the Metrodome. He played with Bud Grant, Les Steckel, Grant, Jerry Burns and Dennis Green as his head coaches. The Vikings knew they could always count on Irwin, who helped Minnesota make the playoffs five times in his final seven seasons with the team.

— Craig Peters

Henry Thomas, DT | No. 72 Overall, 1987 | Years with Vikings: 1987-94

I know Tarkenton will be the runaway winner here, but hear me out: "Hardware Hank" Thomas.

Drafted in the third round of the 1987 NFL Draft, Thomas made an immediate impact despite navigating the strike-shortened season – played mostly by replacement players – as a rookie. Thomas started 11 of 12 games played that first season. He helped the Vikings upset the 49ers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs to advance to the NFC Championship game, where Minnesota was defeated by Washington.

Thomas nabbed two interceptions in his first two NFL seasons, which isn't exactly a common feat by a defensive tackle. He also totaled 654 tackles (league stats), 56 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. Thomas scored two defensive touchdowns for Minnesota.

He showed great durability over his career, missing just six games over eight seasons in Purple, and appeared in back-to-back Pro Bowls in 1991 and 1992. In 1993, he was named Second-Team All-Pro by The Associated Press.

Thomas played in nine postseason games for the Vikings. Following his time in Minnesota, he went on to play two seasons for Detroit and four for New England. He finished his NFL career credited with 93.5 sacks and 1,006 tackles (league stats).

– Lindsey Young